When I heard that Unity Worldwide was releasing a split EP with German old school heroes and US band The Eulogy I had an idea for an interview with a difference. Okay, part of my idea involved making life nice and easy for myself – how about I get the bands to interview each other?!
So what I did was sent Chris/ Ryker’s and Matt/ The Eulogy some questions, and then asked each of them to put a couple of questions to the other. This would only work if they were up for playing ball… Well guess what – they loved the idea and I think the interview(s) have come out great! Ladies and gentlemen, read on.
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Interview with Matt Henderson/ The Eulogy by Tom Chapman, additional questions by Chris Luft/ Ryker’s
MM: I’m interested in how the band works. You’ve had a line-up that has been evolving and have released a string of EPs. Does this mean the band is more of a project than a full-time band? Matt, does this mean that you are now California-based? I’m guessing you have a studio there? Lots of questions – just trying to figure how you guys got to where you are today, if you could indulge me!
MH: Kevin Norton, bass player for the Eulogy, and I are very close friends and go back to the early 90’s while I was going to school in Boston, where Kevin is from, and then as I moved to NYC to be in Agnostic Front/ Madball. Over the years our lives went in separate directions playing in different touring bands and we both co-incidentally wound up moving to Long Beach, CA at different times for different reasons. So in 2011, after just being out here as friends Kevin suggested we try to get together with some of our other friends local to CA and play some music just for fun. Because we all have day jobs, and some of us with kids, none of us are in a position to make The Eulogy our top priority so we take our time but we are more than a project, we just move really slow!! We have had a few line-up changes over the years, however Kevin, Sergio (singer) and I have been consistent and Marc, our drummer, has been with us for 3 of our 4 EP’s. Adam on guitar is the newest member and we’re glad he’s joined up with us. I am no longer involved in owning a studio and don’t do any engineering these days.
MM: Kind of on a similar theme, Matt with you being a producer/ involved in the back end of creating records, what’s it like working with someone like Paul Miner? Is it easy to hand control over? Or do you have a more collaborative approach?
MH: There was a time where being a producer/engineer was a focus of mine and although I was involved in some great recordings over the years I never really achieved the level I wanted to as a true engineer, and it was hard to earn a living so I moved on from that. Today with The Eulogy I am still very active in the song writing/ arranging and I have a strong vision that can put me in that producer’s chair when we record, but I depend a lot on having a very talented engineer to run the controls and dial in the sounds – something I’ve never been the best at. Paul Miner from Buzzbomb Studios here in Orange, CA is AMAZING! Not only does he have a great studio setup, he has dialed in the best guitar sound I have ever gotten on a recording. He’s got a great ear and is a lot of fun to work and collaborate with. After 3 Eps for The Eulogy, as well as doing some guest spots when he recorded AF and Terror over the years we have become good friends. Also, I should say that I am not the sole “producer” for The Eulogy. We work together as a team and everyone contributes and has a say in what we do. It’s a good time.
MM: Tell me about why you chose to cover Bloodstains? Is it to expose classic Californian punk/ hardcore to a new audience? Or just ‘cos it’s a killer song!
MH: Mostly because it’s a killer song, but we do like the idea of being able to tap into that classic Cali catalogue. The Eulogy is made up of guys who have a deep history with Hardcore so our influences make up a long list of bands from all over the world at this point. I think Kevin came up with the idea for Bloodstains, and I was a big fan as a young punk rocker/skateboarder back in 1983 but hadn’t listened to it for years. Sergio and Marc who are both CA natives picked up on it right away and it just clicked. I think we did the song justice in terms of paying tribute to the original version but also put our own spin on it to beef it up.
MM: The song The Trilogy features a big east-coast sounding chorus/ singalong, would you agree? In fact, is there (still) such a thing as an New York or a Californian hardcore sound? Or is it all one melting pot nowadays?
MH: The Trilogy definitely has a big sing along vibe, but I’m not sure if that’s really a New York influence as much as a common thread for hardcore over the years from all over, and really for me classic Oi! bands like The Business, The Oppressed and The 4-Skins. I know many NYHC bands adopted that sing along style, but I don’t think NYHC when I hear it. I hear more NYHC in the later heavier/stomp parts of the song actually, and I think to your point, styles that once originated in certain regions have blended together a lot over the years. We just look to write kick ass songs and don’t pay attention to any style.
MM: Over the years you have played and toured with so many bands. If you could put together a 4 band package to come and tour Europe,as well as you guys (and Ryker’s), who would you invite along? It wouldn’t have to be currently active bands, feel free to dig into hardcore history on this one…
MH: Hmmmm, Ok so it’s The Eulogy, Ryker’s, and instead of picking from the standard pool of classic Hardcore greats that we all know and love, I’m going to go with two bands that have current releases that are heavy on my rotation right now, Retaliate (latest release IV is great) and Subzero (check out House of Grief!).
And now for the extra questions posed by Chris…
MM: In your opinion what is the greatest invention of mankind?
MH: The guitar…
MM: Which musicians (dead or alive) would be in your All-Star-Superband?
MH: Eddie Van Halen – guitar, Mackie Jayson – drums, Geezer Butler – bass, Belinda Carlisle – vocals
And now flying back across the pond, let’s see what Chris has to say…
Interview with Chris Luft /Ryker’s by Tom Chapman, additional questions by Matt Henderson/ The Eulogy
MM: On the tunes on this new EP it feels like you’ve revisited the early Ryker’s style, is this deliberate or a natural evolution?
CL: I think it’s more like a natural evolution. We are usually coming up with a riff or an idea for a song and start jamming with our drummer. Within a few minutes I can tell whether this will be a good song to keep/ record or if we can just skip it. I really don’t like discussing and constructing songs, that kills the energy the natural flow.
MM: Speaking of which, with a line-up very different to the early days, do you get a kick out of playing the older material live, say First Blood era? Maybe even re-record some of those tunes? Or are you happy to “let the past be the past” and keep looking ahead?
CL: I really enjoy playing all those ‘classics’ like Brother against Brother and they will always be part of our setlist, but I think there is no need to re-record them. Well, never say never – but there are no plans yet. We rather work on new stuff but trying to remain the old spirit.
MM: Your 2020 tour got cancelled, would this have been your first tour for a while? What inspires you to keep going back on the road after all these years?
CL: We always toured the last years like Rebellion, Persistence or our trips with 1000 Löwen unter Feinden or Born from Pain and Slope. It’s still a great feeling travelling the world and playing shows to our fans and friends. The energy is inspiring, and we are grateful for that. It’s just like that we can’t do a 4 – 6weeks tour as we did way back then.
MM: How did you hook up with Unity Worldwide for this release?
CL: I’ve talked to Matt about the idea of having an old-fashioned spilt 7” with the Eulogy and apparently they liked the idea. Since both of us know Billy for quite a while (…over 2 decades) we got in touch with him. Luckily enough he was really into the idea and here we go.
MM: Over the years you have played and toured with so many bands. If you could put together a 4 band package to come and tour Europe, as well as you guys (and The Eulogy), who would you invite along? It wouldn’t have to be currently active bands, feel free to dig into hardcore history on this one…
CL: Tough one! We played with almost every cool band that we were looking up to when we first started and it’s always a pleasure to share stages with the familiar ones. Let’s go for something different – I really would enjoy a package with Kiss, Slayer, Cro-Mags AoQ line-up and the Bad Brains – but somehow, I’m afraid that’s not going to happen. So, what about Ryker’s and the Eulogy are hitting the road with Fear, SaiNam, Urban Waste and SubZero??
And now over to Matt to really get the lowdown from Chris…
MM: Tell us some history of “The Kassel Crew”. My memory of your scene goes back to 1992 and it was certainly thriving at that time but when did it initially develop and what bands helped establish it, besides Ryker’s?
CL: Before we started with Ryker’s in 1992 I was playing in different bands like ‘Rotten’ and ‘Expendable Kids’ doing own songs spiced up with covers from Attitude Adjustment, Uniform Choice or AF. 1989 was the year when ‘the scene’ really took off. It seemed like everybody was into Hardcore at that time. We went to see Bad Religion or Gorilla Biscuits and me and my friends Thomas and Dominique decided to book our own shows. The first one was SFA, followed by many, many more. By the way that Youth Centre (AKKU) is still doing shows.
Anyways, it happened that we booked Killing Time on their first Euro-Trip, that show was sick, so we followed that band around to catch some more shows. At one show their singer at that time Dave Franklin (Rest in Peace old friend) finger pointed at us and gave some shout outs to ‘the Kassel Crew’ – so we were all like ‘yeah, that’s us – we are the Kassel Crew’!
So, it was a bunch of friends who were all into Hardcore, Metal and Punk and we waved that flag with some pride. Band wise it was Ryker’s and Brightside (Dennis’ former band) spreading the word about this ‘Crew’. It was never even close to be a gang or tough guy thing, but we had our reputation. Now I can start a few more pages…
MM: What is your favourite American beer and how does it compare to your favourite German beer?
CL: PBR! It’s close to a German Pilsner and totally reminds me of the cheap cans we had in the 80/90 when we couldn’t afford to get some quality stuff (…and didn’t care either). Longboard Lager is great and Golden Road’s – 329 of sun lager is very enjoyable as well as an ice-cold Blue Moon. I have to give some shout outs the my friend Brian Sharp at Knee Deep Brewing for introducing me to some great beers and taking me to a lot of Beerfests to learn even more about the US beer culture – which is way much better that its reputation.