Layout By Ed Interview By Billy.
Making the best out of a short trip to sunny HB, I went down to Main St. to meet up once again with some members of the OCHC outfit LAST LIGHT at the legendary Wahoo’s. A couple of days ago I met them at Paul Miner’s Buzzbomb Studios and they gave me an interview for DroidXRage but I thought, I have to dig deeper into some stuff.
Who doesn’t know LAST LIGHT yet, it’s Jae Hansel on vocals, Joe Foster and John Coyle on guitars, John Lorey on bass and Danny Baeza on drums.
Thanx guys for meeting up with me again. You know what stuck with me the most from our first interview, is that you didn’t count on ‘old glories’ and you didn’t mentioned the bands you used to play in prior to LAST LIGHT.
Coyle: Reason is, we want to focus on what we are doing now. LAST LIGHT needs to take what we have learned playing in prior bands and write really strong and meaningful music that speaks to us now. Not to discount what we have done but I have no interest in playing and touring songs that I wrote more than 20 years ago. It was great at the time but like I said, this is now!
Joe: I totally agree, we all have our stories and histories with hardcore music and you can call it definitely as our set foundation. All of us have always been in bands, our whole lives and we just want to continue to make music. But we are not a band seeking refuge in the comfort of the past. Our loyalty stands in the present.
John: Like Joe stated, it makes the process much easier to play with seasoned guys that subscribe to the same history and vision as myself. We certainly can’t and wont discount the truth, however, LAST LIGHT isn’t about the past, it’s all about the here and now.
Hanging at Leipzig Conne Island 2014
…and the fact, that you were from the same area, spend 25+ years in the same scene and some of you only met each other in 2016. Isn’t that a bit crazy?
Joe: Some of us, that’s true. John was my best friend in High School. I met Jae back in like early 2000’s when he sang for The Twilight Transmission. I really was impressed with him as a person and singer. I have known him awhile. Coyle and I have seemed to of never really crossed paths somehow. It’s really strange. We are literally neighbors too. I guess our first real meeting was at our practice space for the Jon Bunch benefit. Like me, he’s into surfing and we hit if off immediately. I had no idea at that time he even played guitar. He is one of the most talented dudes I have ever played with, so full of passion and positivity. Never a dull moment with him around and super glad we are in a band together. Danny our drummer, a diamond in the rough I call him, I discovered online earlier this year. Sometimes I’m lucky. LOL.
John: I started listening to Outspoken after Jae joined Blood Days. At the Bunch memorial we all played with our bands, we met and when the opportunity to play with Coyle, Jae and Danny happened, for me there wasn’t a decision to be made.
Coyle: Yes, oddly enough after being in the same scene for so long, at the Bunch Memorial, it was the first time I actually met Foster, we hit it off immediately. On this show and even at the rehearsals, I mean you were there and could feel it too, I realized how much I missed playing music and being engaged. When the planets aligned and the idea of LAST LIGHT started, for me it was really easy to dive in.
Tour pic back in 1996 Ignite/Straight Faced
Unbelievable, and you guys connected right away and started a band?
Coyle: I was working with the Outspoken guys on a project but really want to just play guitar and not sing. I was always a huge fan of Jae, especially as a singer, so when he approached me to work with him I was beyond stoked. Having just met Foster and liking him instantly it was a pretty easy. Then I met John and Danny and it all clicked. These are solid guys.
Joe: The band part not right away, but we connected and had a lot in common. We go to shows together and get our families together for dinner. One sad thing about Coyle is his wife makes awesome Pumpkin bread and brings it to him at practice but he won’t share. His love for Pumpkin bread is like nothing I have ever seen before.
John: That is some pretty amazing Pumpkin bread – Coyle guards it, and we have to work as teams to distract him, but it’s worth the extra effort.
O.k. lets travel back in time. John, would you tell us how your musical career started together with Joe and how you ended up again in LAST LIGHT?
John: My first band started in 1980 and was called Parental Defiance. Us being 13 at the time. Due to the bass player’s mom wouldn’t let him play club shows, I had to switch to bass. Parental Defiance played at the Cuckoos Nest in Costa Mesa opening for bands like the Decendents, the Dischords etc. I met Foster in my Sophmore year at High School and eventually taught him how to play the “bar chords.”
John, you teached him to play bar chords?
Joe: He not just showed me how to play bar chords, he is the one who inspired me musically and taught me how to play guitar. He was always so ahead of his time, he played everything and I just really enjoyed being around him and watching him create music. We would hang at his parents house and he would play the most beautiful melodies on the piano and than switch to guitar and do the same thing.
Tausend Löwen Unter Feinden
John: When he was first taking guitar lessons, I asked him to show me what the teacher was teaching. He showed me some open chords, and I was like, “here’s how the Ramones do it….” and he took it from there.
And you started your first band together?
John: About a year later, Foster asked me to jam in his new band, which turned out to include Pat Dubar and Pat Longrie.
Joe: I really don’t remember that at all. I am glad I did though.
John: Dubar and I left, to form what would become Uniform Choice with Pat Dyson and Vic Maynez. I wrote the 84 demo and played about 3 shows with UC. Because of a major surgery I had to stop and was out of commission for a year to recover, so the great Dave Melo took over. Later, after recovery, Foster asked me to play in Unity, which resulted in the “You Are One” EP.
Joe : Hold on that’s true, now I remember. When I could barely play I joined the band Unity and at some point we needed a new bass player and I asked John. Thank God he said yes. We had a lot of fun playing shows and going to shows together.
The REV 25 weekend. Joe and Brett are jamming for the 1st time again after many years
John, you are caught! So, you were one of those truant kids, who skipped school one day, to play the 1st Unity show in Joe’s parents living room? You know, the hole in the wall, as the amp hit the wall, is still hidden behind the picture?
John: The only damage I did to Foster’s parents stuff was their eardrums and sanity.
Joe: I think I skipped school a lot, mostly to go surfing but yeah, that one time we had a party at my parents house in the middle of the day and Unity played we ended up putting a giant hole in the living room wall. Luckily we were able to cover it with a picture and my parents didn’t find out for like 15 years.
What happened than? You guys lost track?
John: After that, our paths diverged for the most part. 25 years and lots of bands later, Foster hit me up about “beginning and ending it together” which ultimately became LAST LIGHT. Over the years I have been blessed to play with great musicians but this is a perfect band for me. We’re like family, checking on each other, we laugh, have fun and importantly, we’re doing things together outside of music too.
Joe: Yeah, at some point John joined the Air Force and we lost touch, I think he was a spy or something. Anyway, about four years ago we met at our High School reunion, reconnected and started a band together. We are finally writing music again and I think this will be our finest offering. The teacher and the student reunited.
Joe and Coyle meet for the 1st time at the rehearsals for the Bunch memorial
Joe, you lost a lot of tracks and ties with the beginning of the new millennium. I remember you sold all of your equipment and you even rented a guitar for a Killing Flame practice back in 2000. Than you starterd teaching media design at a college and you kind of disapeared till you got married in 2011. What happened?
Joe: I guess at some point with Ignite, I got tired of playing the same songs every night. I just love writing music so I left to find more musical outlets and I was tired of touring. A lot of the Speak 714 songs would of been Ignite songs I think. Anyway, it all worked out. I am so glad to of been able to play with so many awesome people and create. For a while I was just working so my parents would stop worrying about their son playing guitar in a hardcore band and not moving ahead with his life. That was the wrong decision though. This and the ocean are who I am and I am back with the best band of my life and on fire to create and tour again.
Would you say that you have had your ‘comeback’ with the REV shows in Pomona 2012.
Joe: I can’t force when I play music. It always has to be from the heart. The concept of a comeback is weird. I never left, it was always in my heart and still found a way while being at home working to do the Killing Flame and Speak. Now from Blood Days to Last Light. The fire and passion and right mindset are back.
Remember, at that REV weekend Brett (Rasmussen) picked me up at your house and you guys talked a bit and started jamming on the porch right away?
Joe: Yeah, it’s always like that with Brett. We just have a magical connection writting together. I feel I could go to his house right now and write a full length in four days that would be some of my best work. Too easy with him, he is awesome.
Knowing the two of you since more than 22 years, in my eyes you guys always have had a special relationship. After you left Ignite in 1997, did you write any more songs together with him or is he just the producer of LAST LIGHT?
Joe: Actually I went over to Brett’s one day to help write some new Ignite material. That is where the song ‘Conquer and Rise’ originally came from. Obviously we ended up using it but writing music with Brett, like I said, is the easiest thing in the world for me. He just gets me and vice versa. Best bass player and best guy ever and he has been so important to the development of LAST LIGHT, from producing our songs to putting in endless hours of pre-production work and the video. Someone please make a Brett button.
John: Brett and Jae played bass on the demos when the songs were written. I only came along later and tried not to screw them up too horribly on the actual recordings. We’re all different players, so I always have to limit my tendency for epic wah-fuled extended bass odysseys.
On tour Ignite/1134 in 1997
Coyle: When I came into the fold they had a few songs already done. One with vocals, the other without. Brett is the 6th member of the band as a producer he is really good. Just doing demos at his house made the songs a million times better. His work with the vocals is pretty unbelievable. The guy is gifted.
Coyle, where did you meet Jae first? Was he, like Foster and ‘Low’, your High School sweetheart too?
Coyle: To be honest I cannot recall the first time I met him. He came into Outspoken to replace Dan Adair. He is such a positive, caring, talented guy. I always thought his involvement in Outspoken is what made the band great. I have a solid relationship with Jae and am in awe of his talent so I’m happy to be doing this with him. He is also practically a doctor with his career in alternative medicine. I can tell him my left pinky toe is sore, he’ll give me some gak weed and in a day its better, the dude is brilliant.
What did you do the last 20 years, I mean before you guys started LAST LIGHT?
Coyle: I was working and getting my family set up. I received a little bit of grief when I sort of disappeared but I am also proud that I didn’t stick around and start making shirts and limited edition records of any of my former bands just to pay my rent. I also did a band call Kill The Messenger with Dennis Remsing and Brian Wig. That band was something I am really proud of.
Jae and you weren’t involved into the reunion tour of your former band in 2012. Did you keep contact to Jae the whole time and how did you both end up again in the band for the Jon Bunch Memorial?
Coyle: I was severely disappointed when they did the European tour. I thought and think it was not honest and/or fair to the rest of the band members and the people that liked Outspoken. It was weird too because some people were calling me a sell out for not being involved. I didn’t get it then and don’t get it now. But on a happier note I have certainly gotten over it and it was one of the many positives that came out of the Jon Bunch memorial. We were honored to be asked to be involved and so deeply moved by Jon over the years it was easy to forget the BS and do it in honor of Jon. It also got me and Mike and the rest of the guys back on speaking terms. We ultimately put everything behind us because of Mr. Bunch. Thanks again Jon!
Well, back to here and now. Your video to the song ‘Conquer And Rise” just went online and at the moment you’re working on your first release. The single will be called “New Beginnings”, right?
Joe: Exactly right Teeth.
Coyle: Yes and I am extremely excited to share it.
What can you tell us about the meaning of the songs as well as the process writing them together?
John: Joe, Jae and Coyle are the primary writers. Danny and I just write around the edges in support, hopefully, of their vision.
Joe: Jae writes the lyrics from life experiences and always adds a positive spin on life etc. New Beginnings seems very appropriate for the time.
Coyle: It is a great process. Usually we walk into practice with a great song idea and we all tweak it until we feel it is the best it can be. I have never been in a band that works this way. Joe is the master of Melody, Danny is a drum machine, John is the king of song structure, and Jae in my opinion is pure magic. I’m lucky to be along for the ride.
John: I believe the words are more personal experiences Jae has had this past year, but they still speak to the universal shit everyone deals with daily, and staying positive about the future, and not getting bogged down in the past, good times or bad. Rightly being proud of yourself for being bold and making changes, but not resting on your laurels, and instead challenging yourself more.
What are your plans next with LAST LIGHT?
John: Keep working hard, and paying attention to the details.
Coyle: We want to keep writing songs while the iron is hot to release a 4 song EP at the beginning of 2017.
Joe: In the end of 2016, there should be a Split-EP out and hopefully we will find a booking agency. We are looking forward to playing a lot of shows and especially touring the US and Europe.
Regarding the Split, I heard some rumors, that there are plans to do it with a European band? Is this true and can you tell us now who it is?
Joe: Yeah, we have been talking with ‘Tausend Löwen Unter Feinden’ about a Split. We actually just finished recording for it. Hopefully this happens soon. I know they are really busy playing festivals and working on a new album. One of our favorite bands for sure.
How came the contact between you and the German band ‘Tausend Löwen Unter Feinden’? They sing in German, why didn’t you choose an english singing band?
Coyle: I heard about ‘Tausend Löwen Unter Feinden’ from Foster, he was really excited about them and overly excited that they sung in German.
Joe: ‘Tausend Löwen Unter Feinden’ is one of the best hardcore bands around and we were honored to be considered for a split with them. They have the energy and spirit that is universal and the passion that sets the standard for what real hardcore is and always has been. It does not matter what language you sing in or where you are from, what matters is the passion and commitment that is involved in whatever it is you’re doing.
Sounds to me that you would like to tour with them in Europe too?
Joe: Yeah, we would love to. Maybe we could support them in Europe and they could play shows with us in the US. However, we are really looking forward to touring in general and hopefully it will happen in 2017. We are totally open to it.
Coyle: Europe has been so great to all of the bands from the US that it would be really fun to support a European band on our home turf. I think the payback is long overdue.
Joe, I know you love to tour, especially Europe. Now you’ve got even your parents and your sister in law in Austria. What do you like so much about being on the road in a tiny bus together with stinky guys?
Joe: Mostly just the stinky guys, LOL. I guess just seeing the world, meeting new people, seeing awesome new bands I may never of heard of. There are so many great bands over there.
Do you have any special memories, accept of the show in Austria where you met your wife Iris? And don’t come up again with, you met her cuz I was hitting on her first. You know it’s not true, therefore, there is nothing to admit.
Joe: My memory is you were totally hitting on my future wife in 1996 after the show in Austria. Shame on you. Thats all on that subject.
John and Coyle, what are your memories about touring and being on the road? Any special memories?
Coyle: Too many to mention. I toured a bit when I was younger and always liked the freedom it gave. You just felt so disconnected from the reality of work, school, responsibilities. I remember we played the Wetlands in NYC and pulled up and Raybies runs out of the club and says “I’m Raybies from Warzone” and gave us all these paper stickers. Nicest guy ever. When the first Warzone 7” came out on Revelation I was so stoked on it. That was a pretty amazing moment.
John: People coming out in new towns and knowing the words and your songs was always amazing. It’s a little different now with everything being available on the internet and you are still doing it for yourself and your bandmates, but a thumbs-up from outside of the circle is still very cool.
Lastly, if yours could sum up, in just one sentence, how you experience being in LAST LIGHT, what would it be?
John: A celebration of all things Danny!
Coyle: Make Lorey laugh then feel good!
Joe: It’s really crazy, everyone gets along with everyone and everyone is really funny, even John Lorey makes jokes in this band and laughs a lot. These guys call and text everyday just to check in and say hi and see how everyone is doing. My sentence is: Best situation ever!