The word “legendary” gets thrown around so much nowadays it has all but lost its meaning. However if you mention bands such as Dag Nasty, then all of a sudden it regains its potency. Going back to the mid-80s, on the one hand you had the all-out Hardcore bands bashing out 10 song 7″s, and on the other you had the very melodic pop-punk bands, but there weren’t many bands that managed to capture the spirit of both styles as well as Dag Nasty did when their debut album Can I Say emerged.
However they were not ones to rest on a style for too long, and with a revamped line-up, on their next two albums, they pushed the boundaries of their sound, culminating in Field Day. And just like that, they were gone. Rode off into the sunset without so much as a fond farewell. The band got back together through the decades that passed but for many people the line-up featuring Peter Courtner on vocals and Doug Carrion on bass represented the pinnacle of the band. I never thought I would see the day when Peter and Doug would make music together again, and yet here we are, over 30 years later, and it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you – Field Day.
This interview coincides with the brand new 7″ record that is being released by Unity World Wide Records, together with Core Tex Records. Core Tex are also doing European distribution, with Revelation taking care of business Stateside.
Interview by Tom Chapman
MM: What was the catalyst that brought you guys together again?
Doug: In a few words? Peter and I love the songs, it’s that simple. They’re special to us as far as songs we’ve written and are proud of, but also songs we love playing, and importantly, really special the fans that had the opportunity to see us play live or are now getting the chance to see us play them live. Friendship is also a catalyst for this coming together. Peter and I stayed in contact and would talk every few years but we NEVER had a conversation about playing together or revisiting Dag Nasty material. It just wasn’t a topic of conversation prior to 2018 but once it came up, we both felt comfortable exploring the possibility. I’ll jump if you jump kinda thing.
MM: What is your current line-up? Obviously you (Doug and Peter) were in Dag Nasty, what other musical projects have you been involved in?
Doug: Peter, myself, Kevin Avery and Shay Mehrdad. Kevin plays drums and is from the Mike Patton Ipecac world, the Locust, Retox, Double Cross all that crazy metal music. Shay plays guitar and was part of the Vegas Hardcore scene and played in Tomorrow’s Gone, Curl up and Die. For me it’s a long list Doug Carrion : Descendents, Circle Jerks, Kottonmouth Kings and blah, blah. Peter played in Los Campires and the Gerunds ..
MM: Is this something that could have happened say 10 years ago?
Doug: Peter and I are opposites when in comes to making music and doing shows. I’m a workaholic and music for better or worse is an obsession. Music takes up all my bandwidth outside of family. Peter is a creative person that likes making music but could just as easily spend all his time writing or drawing. Peter unlike myself has the ability to take it or leave it. The answer is no. I would have been open to the conversation, Peter would have been too busy doing other creative things or doing music just for kicks.
MM: Can you tell us a bit about your first show as Field Day? Was it a low-key “friends and family” type affair, just to test the waters, or was it a full-blown “we are back”?
Doug: The first Field Day show was at the Black Cat in DC July 2019. We had a blast and it was great to reconnect with friends and fans. We just jumped blindly into the unknown and really didn’t know what to expect or what the results were going to be, we just did it. In the end the first show was a positive experience and we agreed to keep going.
MM: Did you have any expectations or fears about getting back onstage for the first time together in a long, long time?
Doug: Fears … Never. Personal expectations yes, very much so. We realize how important the songs are to us and to the fans so our goal was to over-deliver on the live show and go beyond what people thought we were going to do. For example, we play everything intentionally faster live. Why? Because that’s what the Ramones did, they played faster live than on the recordings. Our priority is to have fun and make it fun for everyone at the shows but our motto, “ Be Humble and Don’t SUCK “ is very much real. We care and hold the songs in the highest regard so we play them to the best of our ability and never want to disappoint anyone including ourselves. We do not phone that in, our benchmark and expectations are HIGH.
MM: Did any of those worries materialise or did it all go swimmingly?
Doug: Well let’s just say it’s been almost a years’ worth of shows, and we’re yet to hear one bad word, comment or review.
In other words the 2020 band is better than the 1988 and that’s not by accident, it’s because we put in time to make it right. Swimmingly, yes but not without an insane amount of sweat equity to make happen.
MM: Did you right away make plans to do some touring?
Doug: Regarding the live show the only plan was to have the live show be undeniable and go from there. It took about 6 months behinds the scenes rehearsing, but once we did the first show in DC we just kept adding dates. The Wig Out 2.0 Tour is an open-end tour.
MM: Are you guys based in DC?
Doug: Everyone lives in Los Angeles with the exception of Peter who lives in Philadelphia.
MM: At what stage did you decide there is more to it than revisiting the past?
Doug: Peter and I knew there were still more songs and ideas to explore so from beginning we planned on doing the live shows for 6 to 9 months and then getting into the studio to record within the first year. We’re pretty much on track.
MM: With the newly recorded material, are these new songs, or old tunes that never got past the rehearsal stage (if that).
Doug: We have a new 7” slated to come out June 5th on Unity Worldwide / Core Tex. The songs are all new.
MM: When old bands write new material, it doesn’t always work out. e.g. some band’s sound nothing like what people would want to hear, or they try too hard at recreating a sound and it sounds contrived. But I have to say you have absolutely, 100% nailed it! Made a couple of songs that sound like “Field Day” , but they are vibrant and relevant today. What was your approach to putting these songs together?
Doug: Thank you, that means a lot, we’re proud of them too. That’s not a tough question, but it might be a long answer for the readers, but I’ll do my best. On this 7” I produced it and Cameron Webb (Motorhead, Pennywise, Ignite) mixed it. Since we are a bi-coastal band our workflow is like this. I write an idea, send it to Peter, he adds his ideas and sends it back, Shay adds his ideas, Kevin adds his ideas and then we go into the studio and record everything, sending recorded tracks to Cameron who mixes it. More or less that’s the approach.
MM: The new two song release begs the million-dollar question – is this just a last gasp of breath, or a teaser hinting that there is more to come?
Doug: We plan on continuing to release music for sure. We’re in a place where we only want to do 7” and EP recordings so we can continue doing the live shows. We’d like to do a second 7” this year in 2020 if all goes to plan.
MM: Peter, given that you weren’t making music for a long time, did you stay plugged into what has been happening, or did you step away from it completely? (Doug feel free to answer in Peter’s behalf if you know the story)
Doug: Doug answering for Peter. Not really paying attention to the music world.
MM: And following on from that, how has it been getting back on stage after such a long gap? What are the big differences between then and now? Obviously technology is completely different for starters, and the audience has no doubt aged a bit, but anything else that comes to mind?
Doug: From my perspective on stage there are a few distinct groups : People up front singing having fun, people on the side singing having fun, people slack-jawed ( WTF ) is going on here, this is better than I expected, and lastly the people crying. The crying people are fans that might have seen us back in the day and are deep in an emotional place reconnecting to the songs that meant so much to them growing up. The other day someone asked me to sign a set list to a friend who had passed away. They used to come out and see us play and here he was watching us again years later missing his friend and grappling with the joy of the songs and the ache of losing someone. On the other hand, Field Day is a term associated with celebrating life so let’s end this interview on a high note and say thanks to everyone for coming and checking us out, we looking forward to seeing you as soon as we can get to your corner of the world. Until then Wig Out!!
Pre-order 2.0 (the new Field Day 7”) here