I can’t count how many times I’ve said I’ll write down this interview I did with Mark next monday, since I recorded it four month ago. Not that I didn’t want to do it, but sometime when I take a look at my schedule, I just feel like I’m the most unorganized person ever. Which was also confirmed in this interview because, for an obscure reason, it’s in two parts and one of them parts is half recorded, so for the forty minutes we talked, I only got twenty five minutes.
At first I thought about not posting it, because it seemed useless to have only half of an interview, but after listen through it a couple of times, I realised it wasn’t that bad, since the part I lost was only about shirts and whatnot so maybe for one time we can squeeze through without talking about merchandising. Crap, after reading this I also feel predictable.
Last two things : thanks to Overreact for taking me with them, and a thought to Carl Edward Demola, because Fire And Ice owe The Icemen their name, rest in peace. And now let’s get to it.
Nowadays, I hear a lot of bad things about FIRE AND ICE, like they are sell out or it’s just jock hardcore, and I find it kind of funny because when I first listened to Grim in 2010, they were this cool new Richmond blood groovin’ hard and signing on Triple B records (Except for the LP, all their previous releases were put out on Triple B records) and I don’t understand what happened in five years for this band to be seen as worthless, but they’re still killing it, even though they didn’t put out anything in three years. And yes, this night in Paris they killed it.
I think I was pretty lucky that day, because as everytime, I was about to go to this show without having a place to sleep and all, but I bumped into the boys in OVERREACT who, by chance, had a free seat in their car and were supposed to comeback in Strasbourg after the show. And didn’t ask for shit except money for gas. I won’t make a review for the show, but it was a cool night and all the bands did a great job, and except for my Strasbourg friends, I never saw any of the bands on the bill.
And for my first time seeing FIRE AND ICE, the singer couldn’t make it to europe
Mark McEwen : “He is too busy and he is stuck in the States. The guy filling in is the singer of a band called The Beautiful Ones”
By the way, I forgot to specify the Mark is the bassist of the band.
Even with this little line up twist, it was a nice set, I really liked what I saw and they mostly played their “hits”. I know we’re not talking about pop bands but it’s undeniable, when you write music, there’s always “hit” songs and “regular” songs, the first type of songs get stuck in your head usually.
M.McE : “The song writing is a group effort. It’s usually Flza, our drummer, coming up with an idea, it could be an inspiration from another song or something to create, and we all come up with riffs, it’s not coming from one person only. […] Dave write all the lyrics, he has his own way of writing we don’t know about. He usually show us what he has and we just kind of review it. There’s no editing on the lyrics because his idea are original and they mean something.”
When you play that type of hardcore, you know, heavy, groovy and bit of metalic, there’s always those cheesy lyrics coming with it, and maybe all the lyrics are not perfect or some may look odd but they’re poetic or not just straight forward as they could, and it got this groove on the text. It does make sens in my head, this groove, when you can read lyrics and it have it’s own rythm.
M.McE : “We’re definitly inspired by bands like LEEWAY or BURN, with groovy riffs and powerfull lyrics, but we all listen ot hip hop, old school hip hop like WU-TANG or MOB DEEP and I think it’s important to have lyrics talking about other stuff than brotherhood and beating other people up, especially when you never got involved in a fight. […] RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS is huge influence for the band musically, we all love them.”
And they even have a rip off t-shirt
As I said earlier, I don’t really understand what happened between 2010 and now, for this band to be seen as some jock hardcore or something. Because while we were sitting on the edge of the stage, talking about hardcore shirts, you know when my recorder suddently shut down for no reason, it started recording back when we approach hype in the hardcore scene. The same hype that make them a not so cool band to listen to, and how trendy the scene can be.
M.McE : “There’s totally a style competition, where you have to wear that shirt or listen to this record, and I think it’s dumb. Don’t get me wrong, I love the youth crew revival with the Nikes and all, but I think you should be able to show up dressed as you want, and I think you can dress up as you want as long as it’s real, not part of a trend to be like everyone else or to fit, or to get yourself noticed. […] There’s definitly a fame in the US, like there’s hype bands, bands that you got to know. Like TURNSTILE. They are my friends, my dearest friends, and right now one of the biggest bands in hardcore, that’s absolutly incredible, and they are writing incredible music, but they are hype band so everyone try to get their hands on a shirt and it’s like if you don’t have one of those, are you really into hardcore ? That’s bullshit. If you want to buy a shirt, buy it, it helps the band, if you think it looks cool, wear it, but I don’t think you should have to look a certain way, it’s the first rule in punk rock and that’s why I first got into it.”
That being said, I think it’s a great ideal but kind of hard to achieve, since even though you don’t have to look a certain way, how many times you enter a hardcore show and seems to see yourself everywhere ? Sometime I even feel like there’s group forming out of that, like the crust sticking together, the youth crew kids sticking together etc… and it’s funny how many sings about unity when sometime I just feel like there’s none. But hey I’m still dumb and naive and when I talk to people saying to me “you have to look the way you want” it’s helping me keeping it up.
M.McE : “If I have the chance to get people into Hardcore Punk I will. No one really show me the way and it took me a while to get into it, so if I can show it to younger kids and you know, carry the torch, I will. Because it’s good to know there other shit around than just bars. I mean, there a lot of people in this bar and they’re probaly just here drinking and don’t know what is going on downstairs, not just a show but a whole culture.”
DxR : “If you had kids, which band would you make them listen to as their first hardcore band ?”
M.McE : “Bad Brains probably. It’s a good band to begin with, because it’s totally what hardcore and punk rock are about, or should be. It’s a package you know, the music is fucking perfect with fast parts and an attitude, lyrics that doesn’t make any sens sometimes but we some important topics and you can easily relate to it. And maybe the early Hatebreed, for the heavier side of things, for the metalic influence, because maybe you don’t like the punk rock sound that much and it’s more reachable.”
Mark is twenty five this year and made is first step into hardcore at the age of thirteen, on his own words, with a TRANSISTOR TRANSISTOR show, which is pretty amazing to me since I really love this band. At this time he used to have fanzine.
M.McE : “I did a cut and paste style fanzine back in the days [called Junkyard Dog. If anyone got a copy, I’m willing to pay to see it. Cheers], and I would like to start a new one, but with the same name and the same style, because there’s a lot of bands and singers I want to interview. I think fanzine are important, even during the age internet. It was the only way for me to keep up with what was happening in hardcore and it’s totally what hardcore is about, a bunch of kids trying to keep their culture alive by all means, but out of big business. And I think zine are still important nowadays, even though the internet is a useful tool and it’s the easiest way to be aware of what is happening in the world, the fanzines are a huge part of what is keeping hardcore and the DIY spirit alive. I own a lot of zines and I still read them with a lot of interest.”
It’s been two years now the band is writing new material and hopefully they’ll drop a new release in 2015. At this point, the band had to leave the place, so we finished the interview on how about FLOORPUNCH was a crucial band for him to become Straight Edge and how much money he was ready to spend on a rare piece of merch/vinyl. If you have a little bit of time, check out REACTOR 4, his new band, punk from Richmond.
Thank you for your time and patience Mark, and hope you’ll start your zine again.