With the kind of line-up that will instantly turn any scene veteran’s knee’s to jelly, make them salivate with expectation and weep with joy, Winds of Promise are the Hardcore band that most old HC kids dream about. Composed of ex-members of Uniform Choice, Ignite, Unity, Killing Flame, No For An Answer and more, Winds of Promise deliver exactly the sort of melodic, hard-hitting hardcore that you hope they would.
On the eve of the release of their debut self-titled record on Unity Worldwide Records and Wishingwell Records, Winds of Promise spoke to Mass Movement about their music, their new record, their collective history, the scene and more. And this is what they had to say…
Interview by Tom Chapman
MM: Hey guys, thanx for doing this interview! Could you please introduce Winds Of Promise and tell us, who is in the band?
Nelson: Joe D. Foster on guitar, Mike Kenyon on bass, Patrick Longrie on drums, and me, Joe Nelson, on vocals.
MM: Can you give us a little history of the roots of Winds Of Promise as I believe you were a band around the time of Unity/ Uniform Choice breaking up?
Foster: I don’t really remember even why we started this early version of Winds of Promise. It was a time after Unity had broken up and Uniform Choice was going strong. We only practiced for one summer, probably in 84 or 85, but I remember we had a lot of fun doing it. Pat had an old wine cellar in the basement of his house we use to play in. Our good buddy “Big Frank” Harrison played bass to and we used to always go surfing together. I think also at some point John Mastropaolo played base too. It was really just for fun and we were writing stuff more in the mid-tempo DC vein with a few exceptions.
MM: Why did Winds Of Promise originally call it a day?
Foster: I think because Uniform Choice was still very active and on tour etc.
MM: You guys originally wrote Uniform Choice and No For An Answer tunes, how did you decided which band would be given which tunes when you stopped?
Foster: Since we all wrote them together and were friends just playing for fun that was never an issue.
MM: Neither Pat nor Joe were in No For An Answer (I think!) – how come they ended up using the song “Man Against Man”?
Foster: Actually I was in No For An Answer for a short time. Dan really liked the song that was originally called “A Better Man” and changed the lyrics to “Man Against Man”. I played a show with them at the Reseda Country Club with Insted etc. in March 1989. That you can find on YouTube.
MM: Pat you stopped playing drums for a couple of decades, how did that happen?
Longrie: It seemed that it was just time to move on to something new… So I packed them all up… Drums, cymbals, hardware, cases and hauled them up into the attic in my house and there they’ve remained all these years! 25 years later I was getting my computer fixed by my friend Rainer at his house and he asked me if I could sit behind his drum set ( he has a state of the art recording studio in his house ) and record a quick “punker” beat for a jingle that he was commissioned to create for a television commercial…it was a great experience and I decided to start playing again. Coincidentally he was going to purchase a brand new kit for his studio, so I bought those drums and began banging on them… Weirdly, about a month later Joe Foster calls me out of the blue after nearly 30 years and asks if I would like to get together and play for laughs.
MM: Did you never get the bug to join a band when the likes of Triggerman, Ignite, 411, Speak 714 etc etc were all active?
Longrie: I never had the urge to join any other hardcore bands because I was really focused on marriage, family, work etc. so I was really not in touch with the ongoing music scene or any of the pioneering players, i.e. Dan O’Mahony, Gavin Oglesby, Joe Foster, Joe Nelson etc.
MM: What was the catalyst that got you guys back together?
Nelson: Foster and Longrie start jamming for about a year prior to me joining. I think it was mainly for fun, but that’s where these songs were initially formed. I wasn’t planning on ever doing another band again. Then one day Foster calls and asks me to join. I was on the fence but still asked him to send me some songs. I seriously thought it was the best stuff he’d written since early Ignite. Plus Pat Longire was one of my all-time heroes growing up. I just couldn’t pass up being in a band with him.
MM: Did you start out by covering old ground playing some classic tunes together, or were you writing new material from the outset?
Longrie: A bit of both… Joe Foster’s initial thought was to gather the old Unity line up together with John Lorey on bass and ask Rob Lynch (our original singer ) to sing a couple tunes and have some fun. That kind of morphed into Joe and I getting together and writing new material and we enjoyed the process so much that we continued to just write new songs together and agreed that they would be in the ‘82-’88 DC/OC vein of hardcore, which is something dear to both of our hearts.
Kenyon: Since I joined it’s been constant songwriting, and practicing new material.
Foster: My favorite part about being in a band is writing new music. Of course people might want to hear a few old ones and that’s fine, but always moving forward and always creating is what’s important to me.
MM: How did you piece the line-up together?
Longrie: It began with Joe and I working together and we added John Lorey for a bit until we arrived at Mike Kenyon on bass. As for singers we had Rob Lynch in mind but he lives in Arizona and has a family and works full time so that wasn’t really ideal. We then rolled around the idea of having Mike Gitter (Apology) sing but his fantastic book was coming out and he was extremely busy. We added a great guy in Ryan “Ditch” Cleaver on vocals for a spell but his musical interests were more old school thrash hardcore so we parted amicably until JF hit up his old bandmate Joe Nelson and it seemed to fall into place.
Foster: Yes, it had been a long time since I had spoken to Pat. Since the advent of the internet and Facebook etc, I got ahold of Pat just to see how he was doing. He told me he had just bought a drum set and wanted to jam. We did a few songs early on and recorded them without a singer just because we like them. At that point we were having so much fun we decided to look for a bass player and singer. I had met Mike Kenyon at a Dag Nasty show and found out he played bass and was interested in what we were doing. He’s been the rock ever since. Singer wise, we played with Ryan Cleaver for a good 4 months. Awesome guy but our songs changed as we continued to evolve our sound into a more mid-tempo DC kinda thing and he just wasn’t into it as much as he was in the beginning when it was all fast. I had always loved Joe Nelsons voice, especially in Triggerman and the first two Killing Flame 7”s so I got ahold of him and sent him the songs we had written so far. He said he really like them and has really completed this band.
MM: Mike, you are the youngest in the band, did you play in another band before and how is it to be in a band with Nelson, Foster and Longrie?
Kenyon: I’ve played in a few local bands in the past. Played out here and there. Playing with these guys is a different experience, but it’s the most fun I’ve ever had.
MM: Are the songs on the album all recently written or are any of them from decades ago?
Kenyon: All new material, all created by the band, together. Inspired in part by music from decades ago, and the spirit of that music, that still exists inside these guys (Foster, Longrie, Nelson), as well as new ideas about approaching writing new material together.
Longrie: Yes, all the songs were written and put together 2017/2018.
MM: There is a real mix of styles on the album from fast classic OC Hardcore to almost indie rock, was there any drive to play songs in a certain style or has each song developed naturally?
Longrie: Joe Foster and I agreed to write songs to celebrate an era in hardcore that really meant the world to both of us, the 80’s DC/OC feel. It was really fun to use that as a blueprint but as we began forming the songs they kind of took on a life of their own, ha, ha, ha, and not trying to get too emotional, it was just a lot of fun to write again and create. We hope people understand that we had no preconceived roadmap, we were just having fun and hoping others would enjoy our efforts and love of a type of music that helped to shape both our lives. And then adding Joe Nelson with his heartfelt lyrics and timely melodies, it all just seemed to click.
Nelson: We all come from the same space musically. Our inspirations are all the same more or less. It was very intentional to try and get into a mid-80’s Dischord type groove. On top of that Foster is such a unique guitar with a very signature sound. Therefore that comes through no matter what. We could be doing a Black Metal band and you would still be able to tell Foster was the guitar player, which I guess wouldn’t make it sound very Black Metal, but you get the point.
MM: Are there any songs that you started writing and playing but then set aside as they might have been too “different”?
Foster: Not at all, we have a song on the record that features a violin. We are not worried about public perception of what we should do or sound like. The whole point of being in a band is enjoying what you are playing. As long as we all love it, that’s all that matters. If people like it cool, if not no big deal. We are doing this just for fun and we are really enjoying the process. If or when it stops being fun we will stop for sure.
Kenyon: I don’t think the guys are afraid to be different, when it comes to writing, but they did aim to create music that had a certain quality. If it sounded good to all of us, we would keep working on it. They have a bottomless well of good ideas, those guys, I don’t think we threw any songs away.
MM: Any moments on the album that you are particularly proud of?
Foster: Probably the recording itself. Our boy Derek Phillips was on board with our approach. We didn’t want to have an over produced record. We like the raw edge of so many great bands from the past and we looking to keep our sound and recording in that realm.
Kenyon: I really love the whole album. I’m proud of all of the hard work, from everyone, and grateful for it. Greatest time ever, working on this.
Nelson: I think we’re all pretty proud of all of it. You are never quite sure how this stuff will turn out going in but I think it sounds pretty true to the vision we had for it.
MM: How did you get hooked up with Unity Worldwide and Wishingwell Records?
Foster: Wishingwell is being used on a very limited scale as Pat, the co-founder of the label and designer of the logo graciously offered to donate shirts for a charity. We also are donating all proceeds of the record to The Guardian Angel Project of the German Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on behalf of Wishingwell Records and Unity Worldwide Records. Also, Unity Worldwide Records is a label Sven Guenther and I started in 2017.
MM: Is Wishingwell Records back up and running for the longer term or is this a one-off release?
Longrie: It was just for Winds of Promise. We decided as a band that all the proceeds of the album would be donated to charity so adding the Wishingwell Records name just seemed to fit the spirit of the project.
MM: There is a considerable DC flavour to your sound – do you have any favourite classic DC bands or secret tips that you would urge people to check out? I mean beyond the obvious Dag Nasty, Embrace, Rites Of Spring etc, any hidden gems you think deserve more exposure?
Kenyon: Both are true. They wanted to reignite the fire heard on some of their earlier works in the past, revisit the styles of music that inspired them from the when they started out to now, and also embrace the chemistry that leads us to just crank out music when one guy has an idea for a song, then another guy in the band adds an idea to that, then another to that, and so on.
Nelson: One of my all-time favorite bands is a band called Fine Day that was from D.C. during the early 90’s you can maybe find some stuff on Youtube. They had a 7” with a song called “Soot” and another called “Extinct??” , They were like a Sunny Day Real Estate but more of a hardcore vibe
MM: Pat and Joe, when you were playing / touring in the 80’s did you ever get a chance to play with any of these DC bands?
Longrie: Uniform Choice and Unity were fortunate to play with a number of legendary DC bands.
Foster: Yes, with Minor Threat, Government Issue, Scream, Marginal Man, Dag Nasty…Very fortunate indeed.
MM: If you could pick one historic band to play a one-off show with, who would it be and where would it be?
Longrie: Rites of Spring at the 9:30 Club in DC.
Kenyon: The Adolescents anywhere in Southern California.
Foster: I would play with The Faith at the 9:30 Club.
Nelson: Embrace, Rites of Spring and Winds Of Promise that’s the show I’m looking to book, Ian and Guy just need to get on board.
MM: One for the UC chaps – if you had carried on past the second album, how would you imagine the sound developing?
Longrie: Speaking solely for myself, I would hope that we would have circled back to do another blistering hardcore album in the vein of Screaming for Change with emotion and tempo changes of Staring mixed in. That would be the present day me speaking to the 20 year old me!
MM: Looking back, Staring Into The Sun took people by surprise (I still think it is a great album!), does it hold a special place in your heart or is it something you would rather forget?
Longrie: I very much enjoy and am proud of aspects of Staring Into The Sun. Like anything you do in life, especially creatively motivated projects such as albums ( if you are honest ), there are things that you would alter if you could. Honestly, I haven’t given it much thought over the years as my philosophy is rooted in the fact that it is humbling to be spoken of at all, in any capacity concerning the music that I grew up with, tried to add to and will love all the days of my life. And that is just fine with me.
MM: I’m a bit confused with the Unity/ Uniform Choice timeline – am I right in thinking Unity came first, did the 7″. Then came UC, did the two albums and then split. After that Unity recorded the Blood Days album. Was that just so you guys could document those songs, or were you an active band at that point in time?
Longrie: Uniform Choice and Unity played on the same timeline. Pat Dubar and I decided to form Wishingwell out of necessity as there were no real viable record labels around our area. Unity had disbanded after the tragic death of Rob Lynch’s older brother but Pat D. knew the songs so we decided record the Unity songs with John Lorey, JF and myself and put the 7” out as WW-1. UC had recorded Screaming for Change already with big Pat Dyson on drums so with what we learned from putting out the Unity 7”, we forged ahead with WW-2. Meanwhile Pat Dyson headed off to college at Louisville so I joined UC in 1985 and recorded a couple more songs that we added to SFC (Screaming for Change and Once I Cry) and we were off. The Blood Days album was to reconnect, write some songs and have some fun again together.
MM: Kind of carrying on that theme, are there any bands from your past that you think have some unfinished business? e.g. a favourite tune that was written but never recorded, a show that got cancelled, that kind of thing
Kenyon: I had experiences like that, but sometimes you have something crazy and awesome and explosive all at the same time, and then it fizzles out. It happens. I can only look forward now, and be grateful for those experiences, focus on making the best out of where I am now.
Foster: Bands from the past I think have already reformed or did reunions so it’s already been done. I wouldn’t mind hearing a new Mean Season record though.
MM: Any shows or tours planned in the near future?
Kenyon: There are some plans being made. A lot of positive things are happening.
Nelson: We’re going to play out for sure. Hopefully we’ll get to Europe in 2019 at some point.
Foster: Yeah, we are already writing new songs for a follow-up record and plan to play a few shows in the O.C. and then hopefully head to Europe and or South America next year.
Longrie: Next up is our Record Release Party at Programme Skate & Sound in Fullerton on Saturday, October 20th. It’s a free and an All Ages show. Wise and Pro-Youth will support us.