So yeah Have Heart and Verse released great records this year. But we should not overlook 'Iconoclasm' by The Effort. It's up there with the best releases of 2008. Since I had some questions after reading the lyrics (which can be found here) and because I think the band deserves more attention I send vocalist Tony some questions. (Pictures by Zac Wolf and xChrisZx)
So the record starts with a transcript from the film The Network. Though the film is from 1976, everything you hear could be from a real program today. The economic decline, people afraid to lose their jobs.
Did you have the feeling this was going to happen when you recorded the record? And how does the whole economic situation affect you yourself and the people you know. Do you think the plan of the US administration is going to work and how do you see the future of the United States? Do you have any hope the new president will be able to fix things?
I think almost everyone deep down knew the shit we’d be facing at the time we decided to use this clip. People have at least noticed it for the past 30 years, but sadly our society put all of these problems on the back burner. Unless you were wealthy enough to have stocks, the economic situation the news covers really doesn’t affect the average American.
However this economic bailout plan that was just passed affects every American. We were told that if the taxpayers didn’t bailout these huge corporate banks it would ultimately lead to another depression. I don’t know if any of this is true or if it will even work, it seemed to me that we were already in a depression.
'I heard directly from kids the problems their family faced and the general hopelessness they felt.'
After this full US Tour that we just did with Hostage Calm, I completely believe this. Every state we went through we saw the hardships facing this country and the slow depletion of the middle class. I heard directly from kids the problems their family faced and the general hopelessness they felt.
I personally don’t think one bill can change the fuck ups of the past 30 or so years, but we’ll see. It also really pisses me off that taxes are going to help make sure people who have been making profit of this country for years don’t go bankrupt. My hope is that a new leader and a new direction can fix something, but I guess there is only one way to find out right?
Can you tell me what the song Price of Medication is about. Is it about an illness you have?
The only illness I have is the shared illness of my generation; distraction. That’s what the song is essentially about, being distracted of the monumental social and political problems facing society as a whole. So there is a lot of symbolism and embellished references in the song.
A lot of the stuff I write really shouldn’t be taken too literal because I really enjoy writing personal lyrics that affects or has affected me deeply, but that is also loosely based enough to be relatable to a lot of people.
1985 is about being the son of a hippie. Though I guess an upbringing like that has it’s negative sides, there are probably also some good sides like a more progressive way of thinking which you inherit. So can you say what the good and bad sides are and how do your parents see the fact that you’re straight edge? Do they understand this lifestyle?
My parents were both on the cusp of the hippie movement, and then in the 80s they were both heavily into drug use. In fact it was even admitted to me by my parents that they were both tripping on shrooms the night I was conceived, and that they had met only a month before.
They tried to make things right by getting married and finding steady jobs while ignoring the fact that they were still immature and didn’t really love each other.
Growing up I noticed all my friends’ parents were separating or getting divorced and I couldn’t help but think it was an issue of the decisions their generation made.
I continued to grow up watching my parents divorce and then struggle with drug and addiction problems.
I saw the problems they faced, my mother was never in a stable place, while my father seemed to turn bipolar. One minute they would love me too much, the next I was just punching bag.
'When you don’t change anything, you lifestyle will not be validated in the course of history'
Sure, their generation could be considered progressive to a point, but I really thing every major generation is progressive to some extent. However when you don’t change anything, you lifestyle will not be validated in the course of history and I totally believed that’s what happened to the hippie movement as the 80’s approached.
I don’t think my parents understand the straight edge lifestyle. I’ve tried to explain it before, but like my father would have said “in one ear and out the other”. On the holidays they still ask me if I would like some booze and now I just respond with “I don’t drink”. Hopefully someday when they reflect on their life they will further understand why, but I think deep down they already know.
Born Again Presidency is about the Bush administration. Do you think that Obama can change things or would you rather have someone else be a president or would you rather turn the whole political system in the US upside down and start over again?
First and foremost, the song has a façade about the G. W. Bush administration, but I feel like the message also goes a lot deeper than that. I guess I was just really confused and down right pissed off over the idea that people born in one geographic location get fed this propaganda about the idea of what or who their “god” is and are brainwashed from such an early age to fear it.
Morals are NOT taught through fear, they are taught by human interaction. Don’t get me wrong, I think religion can be a very beneficial thing to some people, but again we shouldn’t base the rules of a melting pot society around one person or group’s religious beliefs.
In another aspect the song is about the pathetic numbers in voter turnout rates. After our recent elections everyone in the media was going around praising the voter turnout, but in reality the largest voter turnout ever was in the 1960’s, and that was only 63% of eligible voters who turned out.
'In my eyes, the only way to make any change is by using the mediums that are most easily accessible, and voting is one of those tools'
This just blows my mind, how people do not want to be included. In my eyes, the only way to make any change is by using the mediums that are most easily accessible, and voting is one of those tools.
Now that the election is over and Obama is in office, I hope there will be some kind of change in this country. I do believe though that there isn’t one person in this world that could perform the change we need in this country by his or herself alone.
I’m very happy that Obama is in office, but my expectations are very high for him. Where the change really needs to happen though is in each person. I believe that people shouldn’t live life ignorantly, while evaluating their “role” in society. I think I might be starting to rant though haha
Nineteen Years Late. Is that about the hardcore movement and the way things are or am I completely wrong here. So what is the song about?
Actually yes haha you are completely wrong. I wrote this song during the period of the Saffron Revolution in Burma (Myanmar) which took place in late 2007. There is some serious shit going on in Burma right now, this revolution however was started over a horrible economic depression that was being ignored by the military lead dictatorship (Junta). The revolution was a peaceful protest by Burmese monks and citizens where over a 100,000 people showed up to protest in the streets. There were met with guns and clubs by the Junta.
In 1988 a similar revolution took place in Burma when the citizens of the country were allowed to hold an election. They overwhelmingly elected the democratic candidate Aung San Suu Kyi. The Junta regime has charged the democratic uprising as unlawful and has placed Aung San Suu Kyi in jail (in and out since 1989, but since 2003 she’s been under house arrest). To this day, she is the only imprisoned Nobel Prize recipient.
'We take advantage and don’t even care about our right to protest as “people of the free world”, while people lose their lives just for the tiny opportunity to one day be free'
Recently after the 2007 uprising (and when I wrote this song) numerous tragedies have occurred in Burma. The first thing to happen was a horrendous hurricane hit Burma head on leaving half the country underwater. The Junta flat out refused humanitarian help and let hundreds of thousands of people starve and die of waterborne diseases, while letting what little supplies they accepted from foreign countries go to the Junta soldiers.
This took place only a couple months after the Saffron Revolution. More recently a massive number of democracy protestors have been imprisoned including monks, comedians, poets, musical artist, and peace activists.
Burma also has over 70,000 children soldiers, this is more than any other country in the entire world. The country is honestly in shambles but sadly because they do not have any profitable natural resources not one “free world” country will take any action.
We take advantage and don’t even care about our right to protest as “people of the free world”, while people lose their lives just for the tiny opportunity to one day be free. It honestly rips me apart to think about. If you want to find out more about this problem please visit www.freeburma.com
How did you get Sweet Pete to sing on the last track? Did he wrote his own lines?
Well Pete and Eddie have been friends for a while and one night when we were playing cards at my apartment Eddie invited Pete over so we could try and win some of his Rev cash haha. While Pete was over we gave him a copy of “Wear Your Heart” and he really liked what he heard.
Pete started coming to our shows and I was hearing from bands that he was telling them that they should keep an eye on us. When Edge Day 2007 came around we told him that we were doing an In My Eyes cover and he was really stoked on it and wanted to sing for it, and like we’d refuse that!
So when we started recording “Iconoclasm” and I wrote the lyrics for “Black Sheep” I knew I wanted Pete to sing those lines. Someone who’s as old as him and still involved in the scene is very inspirational, and I thought it was very appropriate for the lyrics in that song.
You’re coming to Europe. What do you expect from the tour?
Oh man, we’re really excited about this, counting down the days now! To be honest though we don’t have any expectations other than meeting some really cool new people. That’s the best part about touring, meeting new people and hearing their stories. Personally though I’m just anxious to see new places as well and happy that people across the pond want to hear our message in person!
Iconoclasm isn’t released on one of the bigger labels in hardcore.
Weren’t they interested or do you rather do things your own way and grow slowly but steady as a band? Would you like the band to be in a position like Have Heart, meaning touring all over the world or do you have studies and jobs to focus on as well?
I’m not sure if any of the “bigger labels” in hardcore were interested or not, but we had signed a contract with Words of War Records to produce an EP and an LP. Working with Zak (Words of War) was a great experience though; he invested a lot into our band that nobody had really heard about. He’s doing a lot for other new bands too.
I do think though that there are too many bands that have seen the success of say Have Heart or Guns Up and feel as if there is now a formula or distinctive route you need to take in hardcore.
That’s what it’s all about, getting the music and message out!
At this point we are just taking steps in whatever pace we feel are adequate. We consider all offers given to us from anyone, but basically what it comes down to is who is going to give us the most freedom to do whatever we want in the most accessible medium possible. Because that’s what it’s all about, getting the music and message out!
Recently we just released a new EP called “From Our Mistakes” on a startup label by a good friend of ours Michael from Hellfish Family. He’s been doing a lot for bands merch wise, and felt like it was the time to make the step into releasing music now. We’re really stoked on the way everything is coming out and feel as if the way this EP is going to be released is just as passionate and unique as the music we recorded for it. I think preorders for the EP actually just went up the other day, so go check it out at www.hellfishfamily.com
As far as touring goes, we’re looking at it the same way we look at labels, just do whatever feels right at the time.
This upcoming European tour is going to be our third major tour, and I think on the road is where everyone in the band feels at home. I hope we don’t stop touring, and I hope we can meet people all over the world in person, but I’m not in anyway expecting it.
Why is the record called Iconoclasm?
Sometimes I’m really bad at giving all the ideas in my head a one word name, so when writing the lyrics for the record I asked my girlfriend if she could help out. We brainstormed for a while and came up with iconoclasm.
If you look up “iconoclasm” in a dictionary it has a general meaning and a more pinpointed meaning. The more general meaning is, “a challenge to and overturning of traditional beliefs, customs and values”. I thought the general meaning really summed up the whole album and message we were sending.
Myspace: The Effort