The Definitive – Start Today Fanzine -Collection, Part #2 Interview One – Champion

By ED

champion

Interview with Champion from issue #3 of Start Today by Jeff Lasich.

 first met the guys in Champion during their summer 2002 tour.  Aram and I bonded instantly, almost like long lost brothers.  We would always have the best talks about life, hardcore, and everything in between.  Over the years, I would get excited when I knew they were going on tour and the east coast was in their plans.  Their first shows in Philly were at a frat house and the Funrama basement, and as they got more popular and played larger venues, they stayed the same guys.  Unfortunately the last few times they were supposed to play, they didn’t get a chance because of outside reasons.  I got a phone call in early January saying that Champion was breaking up and asking if I wanted to do the final interview.  I know they were in Start Today #3, but I screwed up the master tape and less than half the interview survived.  This is my chance to fix it.  The questions were answered by all 5 members of the final line-up of Champion.  I like getting five different perspectives on the same topic.  Champion is over, but their legacy will live on for years to come.

I guess we can start at the end…why call it quits?

Andy:  I actually parted ways with band after Australia. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make. I had the opportunity to go back to school and we tried to make it work out but with the touring and recording it was too hard. I really wanted to help write the lp but due to school it would not have been possible. Plus helping with the lp would mean that once it came out there would be a lot more touring which I would not be able to do.

Aram:  It was just time; we’ve been a band for a long time and got the chance to do some amazing things, but it got to a point where it was starting to feel like a job and that’s not the type of band we wanted to be in. Better to end it on a good note and be able to look back and take pride in what we’ve done rather than milk it for another few years and end up a disgrace.

Chris:  We kind of just felt like it was time, there were a lot of factors really, it’s a hard thing to do, deciding when its time to put to rest something you have been doing for years.  But I’m excited to go back to school, be in new bands, have money for the first time in like 7 years…  I love Seattle, and it’s been cool being home for the past few months.

Todd:  We were looking ahead to the next year or so when it occurred to us that we were pretty worn out and not as excited about recording and touring as we thought we should be.

Jim:  For me it was just becoming too much of a job; all of the fun had been taken out of it, and with all of the touring and pressure to put out a follow up full length I didn’t feel it was coming from the same place. It felt more like we had to live up to a reputation than actually just do what we wanted. I don’t think it should have ever come to that, but it did, so I felt more comfortable putting it to rest.

I’m sure Champion did more than you ever imagined.

Andy:  When I joined Champion in the summer of 2004 I figured I would just be filling in for the summer and that would be it. But the touring just didn’t stop. I never ever thought that I would get to go all of the places I did. I never imagined being a part of something so special.

Aram:  I joined Champion after their second demo and my biggest dream at the time was to put out a 7” and tour the US… everything after that was just unreal. I think one of the best things about the band was that once we’d accomplished one goal we’d set another one, but it would always be a small goal, we just took it one small step at a time and it proved to be one of the most amazing times of my life.

Chris:  One of the things that kept Champion going strong for all these years is that we continually made new goals and we met them.  We would set a goal, work for that, and then set another; we were always raising the bar.  The goals we started with were just to have fun, maybe do a west coast tour, and put out a 7″.  I mean we had goals toward the end that we never accomplished such as touring South America, Russia, South Africa, things that would have been a lot of fun, but with all we have done, and all we were lucky enough to experience I could never have any regrets at all.  It’s been a great ride.

Todd:  When I joined the band they had a demo out and hadn’t played for quite a while after losing their previous drummer.  At that time, I think pretty much our only goal was putting out a 7” and touring.  I love all the dudes in champion; so as long as I was still having fun, then I was accomplishing what I set out to do.

Jim:  Originally the band was something Chris and me wanted to do so we could tour. We wanted to play in an old school hardcore band, go nuts live, and tour. Putting out a 7″ was really like the biggest goal we had, everything after that pretty much blows my mind.

Did you ever reach that point where you wished you had named the band something different?

Chris:  When we were trying to come up with a name someone said champion jokingly and as we kept referring to the band as “champion” it kind of grew on us.  It’s a strong word that carries a lot of connotation.  I like to think that it fits the attitude that this band has had, through some of the rougher times: member changes, money problems, van problems etc.  I like to think that we came out on top of adversity

Jim:  No, Champion was a cheesy name, but its something that stuck. Most people were like, “dude, I can’t believe they actually named there band that” but the name really embodied what we were about.

Champion from start to finish was a straight edge band.  It seems as if that is almost taboo these days.

Chris:  I think that taboo played a big part in our wanting to be a straightedge band.  There were definitely times when it would have been easier to find a non-edge drummer or bass player when we needed new members, but it was important for us to stay what we started, to stand behind the same things and fly that flag.

Todd:  For me, straight edge was a part of my life without an outlet.  I was always in punk bands before Champion; and I was the only straight edge guy amongst my friends.  I’m proud of the way Champion represented straight edge; a band that lots of kids could relate to; edge or not.

Jim:  For me, there was a legacy of straight edge bands from Seattle: Brotherhood, undertow, and then Trial so I felt like we were carrying that on. There has been lack of Straight Edge bands in the past few years and that just made out commitments stronger. We started as a Straight Edge band and we ended as a straightedge band; we kept our integrity.

What kind of personal sacrifices did you have to make to be such a touring machine?  It seems like it should have taken a toll on you, both financially and emotionally.

1999 Demo

Andy:  I dropped out of school, left my job and left my friends in family. It definitely takes its toll on you. There were times when I thought I was gonna crack but in the end it was totally worth it.

Aram:  Throughout the years I had to sell most of what I owned and I’m in a seemingly never-ending mountain of debt, but it was all worth it.

Chris:  I loved touring but yeah it is hard at times, money is always a problem, trying to stretch your dollars, picking up jobs when you get home from tour, just to have to quit them when you leave again, selling clothes, cds, anything.  Not having insurance, being on tour is super hard on your body.  Towards the end I had bursitis in both shoulders and hips and I was practically living on pain relievers, I would wake up at night in so much pain I couldn’t get back to sleep, and sleeping on floors definitely didn’t help.  I also shin splints so bad I would be limping after shows, teeth falling apart, cavities and chipped teeth.  And relationships are brutal; it’s so hard to be involved with someone and being away from them more than you see them, especially when they are hearing stories about other sketchy dudes in bands doing crappy things.   It’s rough.  I missed two of my sisters weddings, I missed my high school 10 year reunion..  It’s definitively a huge commitment, but it’s also very rewarding; being able to travel all over the world, making new friends, and seeing old ones.  Creating something from your heart and to have kids respond to it in such a positive way is really touching.

Todd:  Well, I’d be slightly dishonest if I went into great lengths describing the hardships of non-stop touring because I missed the heaviest year of Champion’s touring; having left the band following our first European tour with The Promise.  I did drop out of university when Champion started playing a bunch, and financially being in a touring hardcore band is not the easiest life.

When I re-joined Champion last summer and met the guys on the east coast, they were totally exhausted, having just come off that insane year of touring.  Those dudes: Chris, Jim, Aram, Andy and Brandon, did all the heavy lifting.

Jim:  I didn’t have a real job for about 2 years, lived with my dad, and minimized all of my bills to make my lifestyle somewhat affordable. I ruined relationships, dropped out of college, and sold all of my records and almost all of my belongings.

You even managed to survive a tour of Europe, which has been the end of a lot of bands.

Andy:  I went to Europe twice with Champion. The first time was for 5 weeks and it killed me. It was cold and wet. There were some places that I loved and others that I hated, but it was still amazing to get to go there and see so much awesome stuff with 4 rad dudes.

Aram:  I just tried to view everyday as a gift; I grew up in the middle of Canada and was pretty isolated from the North American punk/hardcore scene so the idea of playing in a touring hardcore band was something totally outside of my experience but always something I dreamed about. I played in a lot of local bands and I knew I wanted to get out on the road but I never believed that I would ever be able to be a band that would tour the US let alone Europe. When it all started to come together it was just unreal so no matter how hard things got I’d always just look back on all of my dreams and take pride that I was living them.

Chris:  Europe is awesome!  there are so many cool kids there that care so much about hardcore.  There are so many beautiful cities, and so much history.  I think the reason a lot of bands break up after Europe is they kind of see it as the final goal, the grand finale.. When we did Europe we came back and we made more goals, we went to Japan and Australia, we toured the US more extensively.  To us, Europe was never the last goal.  It was a huge goal, but we also wanted to be able to come back, and play these cities again, and see these friends that we have made.

Todd:  Haha- yeah, I survived Europe, but that turned out to be my last tour for a while; looking ahead to the next year, it all seemed a bit too overwhelming to me at the time.  I love Europe, and I’m glad I got to go back with Champion to the UK and Spain last October; and I’m especially stoked to be returning with Betrayed in May.

Jim:  Haha we almost didn’t that first time, but once we made it through it made it easy for the next 3 times we went. I love Europe and I love European hardcore… that’s one of the worst things about the break up for me, all of the friends that I made in Europe I may never see again.

How did you feel about not being able to play at Posi Numbers 2005?

Andy:  It was a bummer. We drove across the country for one show and then weren’t able to play which killed us. But at the same time we got to hang out with our friends for the weekend which ruled.

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Aram:  I can’t say I loved the idea of going all the way out there just to lend 10 bands our equipment and stand inside a bacteria dome for three days. It was frustrating because after it all went down it seemed like there was the nationwide Oh well shrug from the HC scene and then everyone just got back to talking about shoes, records, and shit on bands. To me it was just a sign of how little belief and caring there is in HC these days. Seriously people need to start paying attention to what’s happening in hardcore because things are falling apart.

Chris:  Yeah it was a bummer, I was more bummed though when kids came up and said that they came all the way from Europe, and Australia, and Korea etc. to see Posi Numbers and to see us play.  I felt bad for The Wrong Side, it was supposed to be their last show, I was hella bummed I didn’t get to see Killing Time!  Mostly I was bummed about the possibility of such an amazing yearly fest maybe not happening again.  And I was bummed about not getting to play in a bubble.

Todd:  That totally sucked.  That was right when I re-joined the band; and I was totally blown away by the response Promises Kept had gotten.  I hadn’t really toured on that album at all, so I was totally psyched to go out and play those big shows that summer.  And then Hellfest too.  Bum out. Total bum out.

Jim:  I was really bummed out. I mean we travelled all the way out there specifically for that fest, we’d been set up for 2.5 days waiting for our set at the end of Sunday night. It was a good time, but it was a total buzz kill. To top it off, flying back out a month later to play Hellfest and having that cancelled… that was a shitty summer.

What was one thing you wanted to accomplish with Champion, but never did?

Andy:  I wish I could have written a lp with them.

Aram:  Going to China, Israel, Africa, and the greater Pacific Rim.  We were going to do all of that this year and it’s a huge disappointment to not get to go.

Chris:  I was really looking forward to recording with Bill Stevenson.  The records that come out of that studio always sound amazing, not to mention the Descendants were a really important band for me growing up, and just the thought of having the drummer of the Descendants record our record would have been awesome.  We were supposed to tour some new places this year that would have been cool: South Africa, Russia, Greece, New Zealand, South America etc.

Todd:  Nothing.  I’m totally blown away by what we accomplished.

Jim:  I wanted to go to South America and New Zealand.

Your next record was supposed to come out on EVR?

Andy:  Bridge 9 was awesome, but with all of the touring we were doing we thought we needed a little more help.

Chris:  We had a working relationship with them through Merch Now, and they have always been awesome.  When we met with Steve about the possibility our doing our new record with them it was really cool.  We felt like we were totally on the same page with them as far as what we wanted to do, our goals and commitments, we didn’t feel like it was a departure from what champion was, and it felt more like we were just friends, not business partners.  And that was really important to us because the people at Bridge 9 and the other people in the office there (Kenmore, Liberated Images, Deathwish etc…) really are some of our best friends in the world.

Todd:  We looked at what we could do with our next album, and what level we thought we were going to have to strive for with the next year, and we thought EVR could help us with some of the bigger ideas we had for the band.  Chris Wrenn and Bridge Nine are one of the biggest reasons Champion was able to do what we did.  Chris took a chance on us, sight unseen, after hearing our Phyte 7” and after a lot of prodding from some fantastic friends of the band, and we’re all extremely grateful for all his support over the years.

Jim:  At the level that Champion was going and the amount of touring we were doing, we needed bump in promotion and support. We never had any problems with Bridge Nine; we appreciate everything they ever did for us, because without Bridge Nine Champion would have never done the things we had done. We were just hoping that EVR could do some things that Bridge Nine couldn’t. Basically we wanted to tour with Coheed and Cambria. No not really.

Does it seem to you that a majority of kids involved with hardcore just don’t care about things anymore?  Hardcore should be a little more than just shoes and moshing, rather a vehicle to improve your life and the world around you.

Andy:  I don’t know if it is the majority but there are definitely a lot of kids who just don’t care about things anymore. I got involved in this community because it is different from everything else, and we people start to act that way it doesn’t make us any different.

Aram:  I absolutely agree, in the past five years there seems to have been a real shift from the value of hardcore as an aid in the inner quest of self-improvement to more of a focus on material possessions and social status. Its the type of thing that seems to happen in a cycle so hopefully the wheel will turn again soon

Chris:  Sometimes it does, other times I see kids who are really passionate and really care about things that are important to them.  I see bands like Verse and Go it alone, who I think are two of the most passionate bands in hardcore right now.  Bands like that give me hope.  There really are a lot of things to feel good about right now, and I think it’s more important to concentrate on the real than to dwell on the fake.

Todd:  Yeah, it does kinda seem that way to me.  So much of what makes hardcore unique is becoming cliché instead

Jim:  I’m defiantly feeling that. The passion is there, it’s just misguided. Instead of having an urgency to question and change things, its more of a complacent, “I’m hardcore I’m happy the way things are”. People are still passionate about records and shoes and bands, but all that’s doing is surviving, but kids aren’t taking this vessel and living.

Is this your goal for Betrayed?

Aram:  Definitely, the standard that Champion set is one that I plan to carry on with Betrayed; if Hardcore doesn’t have an element that’s striving for social and personal change then its just a form of heavy music to dance to and that’s not the hardcore that I’m a part of.

Chris:  I’m not in Betrayed, but there is one thing I’d like to say about betrayed and that is this: sometimes in this scene it seems like when kids become really good at playing their instruments, they want to move onto something more challenging than hardcore, they want to play metal or rock and roll or whatever, the thing that is cool about betrayed is that those dudes rather than moving beyond the borders of hardcore they are pushing the borders of hardcore and creating new challenges within the genre.  I just think that is cool.  Respect.

Todd:  My goal for Betrayed is to rock out hard.

As older guys, do you find it harder to relate to the current hardcore scene and it’s ideals?

Andy:  I am not old like Aram.

Aram:  For the first time in my life I’d have to say yes and that kind of freaks me out. It just seems that no one cares about anything anymore; that type of attitude is just alien to me and not something I expect to find in the hardcore scene.

Chris:  I don’t know I mean you see both sides, there are amazing kids that I see and they make me so stoked on hardcore and those kids are really what its all about.  Then there is the other side, the kids that I see kind of getting into hardcore with a chip on their shoulder and doing some things that bum me out like starting fights at shows and trying to tear other kids down on message boards or with damaging talk behind their backs.  In a way I kind of see a lot of myself in them, some of the things I see in these kids remind me of some of the ways I thought when I was younger.. I wish I could just make them see some of the things that I’ve seen, the things that these kinds of actions do to the scene.  I think the best thing you can do is just try to set an example and let kids see by your actions.  The best way to show people is to just live and be real and hopefully some people will find security in that, and one day it will just click and they’ll just understand.

Todd:  The problem is in finding ideals you can relate to in a scene that’s become so big and varied.  I can relate to some of it, but more so I see a lack of interest by bands and kids to be meaningful, to have ideals as they relate to hardcore or punk rock or whatever at all.

Jim:  There is a whole wave of hardcore that seems to have no ideals. Kids don’t care about anything except listening to the cool band, dressing in the cool clothes, and trying to make their band the cool band. It reminds me of what happened when “punk died”. A lot of hardcore today just isn’t hardcore anymore. And its seems like these people try to act hard, and tough, and fight and build reputations, so people will think they are hardcore, but it just seems fake to me. I guess I sound like one of those old guys I used to hate, but being in a gang isn’t the type of threat hardcore was supposed to be. Starting a revolution whether it be, Straight Edge, Krishna, vegetarianism, veganism, feminism, or whatever, now that’s a threat. Young kids in large quantities questioning our society, questioning or culture, that’s a threat. Kids that think for themselves, that’s a threat.

When it was announced that Champion was breaking up, someone posted on a message board the reason was because you ran out of ways to say you are more straight edge than someone else.

Andy:  Whatever, people can say what they want. We know why we are here.

Chris:  You can’t let stuff like that bother you.  there are always people that aren’t going to like your band.  You can’t try to appeal to everyone.  if you do that’s kind of the definition of selling out.  We do what we do because we love this style of hardcore.  we grew up on this sound and this message.  We play it for ourselves and for the other kids that love this style of hardcore.  When there are 4 or 5 kids badmouthing you on some message board, but the same time there are hundreds of kids posting on your myspace page the most heart warming comments about how much your music means to them and how sad they are that you are breaking up, and you are worrying more about the 5 kids… then your heart is in the wrong place.

Todd:  Whatever.  What jumped out at me way more were the people that came out and said such great things about what our band meant to them, kids talking about a Champion show being their first hardcore show, and how they’ll always remember that; I was really moved by what seemed to me as some truly heartfelt compliment and thanks.

Jim:  I think when any band gets to a certain point, people will take shots. We’ve been around for a long time, we’re a straight edge band, we don’t fit into any “cool” genre of hardcore, and we are an easy target. No one was required to like us, in fact a lot of people don’t, but that’s ok. I just hope that whether people thought we were cheesy or not, or if people liked our music or not, that maybe they took the time to listen to what we said, and maybe someday opening up one of our records and reading out lyrics. That’s what’s most important to me.

Champion was never a band to back down from the things that they believed in.  Has that ever hurt the band?  Did you receive positive feedback for taking a stand at times?

Aram:  No I believe it only helped us because people knew that they could take what we said at face value; I think people knew that they could place trust in our band.

Chris:  Hardcore isn’t always easy.  Standing up for what you believe is rarely an easy or a safe thing to do, but you have to be willing to do it.  That’s what this scene is all about.  I think that Jim has a pretty good gift of being able to say things that need to be said, and saying it in a way that he doesn’t come off self righteous.  If you are up on a soap boxing preaching down to people, no one is going to listen to what you are saying because you just sound like a jerk.  I think it’s important that hardcore doesn’t become an “us vs. you” thing.  We are all in this together and we have to work with each other to fix things that are damaged and to make this scene as strong as it can be.  Preaching down to people can do just as much damage as anything else.

Jim:  Yeah almost always, despite the repercussions, we always received praise from the kids. Id like think we stuck to our guns. There were times where it was a little scary, but everything seemed to work itself out in the end.

The song “A Thank You Note” you touch on violence, especially people who have been around for a while and still act like goons.  If they have managed to stick around that long, shouldn’t they have enough respect for the hardcore scene and even have a little more sense than some 16 year old kid who is trying to impress either their friends or some older people?

Aram:  I’ll never understand how any adult finds a level of gratification in having a room full of people fear them. I mean I have a basic understanding of how the psychology of it works but I just can’t imagine having that kind of need burning in me. What does it mean 5 years from now? Nothing. What do you gain as a person? Nothing.

Chris:  The sad thing is I’ve seen a lot of kids that had seemed to wise up and realize the damage that this kind of attitude has, then they just sort of forgot all about that epiphany they had and went back to their old ways.  I wish people could see that when we walk through these doors we are all the same.  I’m not saying there is never a reason to fight anyone, but it seems like some people look for any reason to prove their hardness.. I’m sorry jumping some random kid at a show 10 on 1 is NOT hard.

Todd:  If older dudes are bent on acting like idiots one of two things will happen: 1. New kids will not stick around, or 2. New kids will emulate those idiots.  Either way, it’s a bummer.  I hate to use the term “role-model” because I’d like to think part of hardcore is acting what you feel; not how you think you should, but if all the young kids getting into hardcore right now see nothing but punching into the crowd and such, it’s gonna do nothing but bad for most scenes.

Jim:  Defiantly. When we wrote that song, some of our older friends were starting to act all tough, and I’d like to think the song put an end to it. But now younger kids are up to the same old games. As loud as I can yell, they don’t seem to listen, but it’s just me. I hope that other bands can see that things need to be said, the people in the bands can decide what’s acceptable and what’s not. Violence shouldn’t be allowed into our shows.

Champion seemed to have a great influence on hardcore musically.  It seems that a lot of bands on the west coast have been inspired by the melodies and musicianship that you brought to the table.

Aram:  I think our influence lay more in ethics in regards to band ideals and work rather than music. We always made a point to look out for the bands, label, and people around us; to pass on whatever help or advice we could to others… basically in the era of Hardcore that we grew up in there was a real sense of community that seems to have faded away and we tried our best to bring that spirit into our everyday existence as a band. Hardcore seems to be struggling under the weight of too much competition and ego tripping and I think that the feeling of community that we, and a lot of other current bands, have tried to foster is starting to take hold and I’m proud that we’ve been a part of that.

I also definitely believe that we set a new standard for what a smaller hardcore band can do if they apply themselves and really work to achieve their goals. Champion was never a huge hype band, we were just a group of guys who would commit to a goal and work until we reached it and I see that now in a lot of younger bands.

Chris:  I think that our touring has kind of paved the path for a lot of people.  I think that a lot of kids see now that you don’t have to be a huge band on a huge label to be able to go wherever you want in this world.  You may have to work a little bit harder but it is possible.  Also touching on some things I said earlier in the interview I’d hope that we have set an example of integrity; that you can stick to your guns and stand strong in your ideals.  Another thing that I am proud of is our live show, we aren’t always the tightest band on stage, but it’s very rare that everyone on stage isn’t giving 100%.

Todd:  Man, it’s hard to say what our influence has been.  Occasionally I’ll see a new band that will be compared to us among other bands musically, and that blows my mind.  We just play fast hardcore with octaves and we can’t write breakdowns- haha, sounds pretty straightforward.

What was the most difficult thing you faced as a band?

Aram: Recording our LP

Chris:  Definitely writing promises kept.  It was really hard work and it wasn’t always fun getting ready to record that record, in fact it wasn’t very fun at all.  There were times when we almost broke up writing that record.  It was really hard work.

Jim:  Recording Promises Kept I think was the most difficult thing, well second to deciding to break up.

What was the most rewarding?

Andy:  Australia rules.

Aram:  Going to Japan

Chris:  When we finished up the last day in the studio at like 5 am as we all walked through the streets of Salem, Massachusetts, the sun was coming up and we were all so worn out, but we were so stoked that we were done and we were stoked on how it sounded, it was totally worth it.  It was a really liberating feeling to have worked so hard on something for so many months and to be done and to feel like it was the best we had.

Todd:  I think the most rewarding thing for all the work was when we go to some new city, country, whatever; we’ve never been to before and we start to play and there are kids singing along.  I’ll never forget that feeling.  That’s the coolest thing ever.

Jim:  I think recording Promises Kept. All of my memories will fade over the years, but I will always have that record to look back on, to hold in my hand, to play to my ears.

What’s next in your life?

Andy:  Hopefully finish school soon and do another band.

Aram:  Work, marriage, Betrayed, The First Step, The Vows, chilling.

Chris:  Right now I’m just working a lot, spending lots of time with my girlfriend, and family.  Going to shows.  I’m going back to school in the fall.  Jim and I are starting a new band.  Aram and I are in a new band called “Vows” with some dudes from Undertow and Unbroken.  New 7″ coming out on Indecision records soon.  Both bands are much more part time I’m gonna be a full-time student, part-time worker and full-time Seattle hardcore dude.

Todd:  I’m going back to school to finish my degree in biology next fall.  I play drums in Betrayed, as well as in a yet-to-be renamed band with tattoo god Matt Arriola and Chris Manfredo of Hardesty.  I’m contemplating a move to California, but I’ve been contemplating that for a while now.

Jim:  Going back to school and I am going to catch a chupacabra. I’m also planning some holidays. I’m going to go to Thailand this year.

What current bands, labels, etc are you excited about?

Andy:  Paint It Black, Cloak Dagger, LOJ, Outbreak, No Roses, Sinking Ships.

Aram:  Converge, Time to Escape, Go It Alone, Doomriders, Blue Monday, Verse, No Turning Back, Miles Away, Internal Affairs, Allegiance, Bitter End, Get the Most, Damage Control, Triple Threat, Paint it Black, Have Heart, Guns Up.  Bridge 9, Deathwish Inc, Equal Vision Records, Rivalry Records, Bottled Up Records, Malfunction, Youngblood Records, Endwell Records, 1917 Records, and Indecision Records.

Chris:  Outbreak, Comeback Kid, Verse, Internal Affairs, Allegiance, Down to Nothing, Barricade, Jaws, Blue Monday, Ceremony, the First Step.

Todd:  The Speedkills, Sinking Ships, The First Step, Doomriders (duh).

Jim:  Paint it Black, No Turning Back, Sinking Ships, and The First Step.

What current trends in Hardcore would you like to see die out?

Andy:  Fighting

Aram:  By far the most irritating thing for me right now is people feeling like they have to “make a name” for themselves, either through violence or by trying to act as jaded or as “over it” as they can. Intimidating teenagers doesn’t make anyone respect you and if you’re really “over it” then move on because you’re wasting our time and no one is impressed.

Chris:  I’m ready for the violence trend to die out.  I wish girls wouldn’t back bite other girls in the scene so much.  It’s hard enough for them to get respect from dudes in the scene; they also have to worry about other girls trying to tear them down.   Mostly I wish people would just think for themselves.  Also I really think that if everyone listened to more 7 seconds this world would be a better place.  I’d like to challenge kids to really read the lyrics when you get a CD.  Don’t just put it on your iPod and throw the insert away, open it up and read the lyrics.  That’s where you are going to find the answers.  Those bands have all been through these things before, read the lyrics to “things we say” by gorilla biscuits, read the lyrics to alone in a crowd, to the Cro-Mags, Sick of It All, all the old bands, they have been through all these problems before; the violence, the tearing other people down, the schisms.  Read the insert to Judge “No Apologies” that’s why they broke up.  We can learn from the mistakes of the past, we don’t have to run our scene into the ground to learn what things aren’t good for the scene

Todd:  Tough guy nonsense.

Jim:  Gangs and drugs.

Last thoughts from Champion.

Andy:  Thanks Jeff, Keep up the good work. Jim, Todd, Aram and Chris thank you for everything, you’ve changed my life.

Aram:  Greatest time of my life… thank you and goodnight.

Chris:  I really want to thank the dudes in the band, and all of the kids who have made this all possible.  These few years have given me some of my favorite memories of my life.  The thing I’m most bummed out about breaking up is the thought of not seeing so many people that I care so much about.  It scares me to think of people on the other side of this world, or even this country that I may never see again.  I really just want to thank everyone who made this possible, from the labels to the bands to the kids at the shows.  Everyone that ever put us up for the night, took us out to their favorite food spots, or came up and talked to us after the show.  Hugest thanks to Chris Wrenn and Matt Pike for faith and friendship

Todd:  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Jim: I’m gonna miss you guys.

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