Boston Strangler interview – original version
BOSTON STRANGLER INTERVIEW – ORIGINAL VERSION
They’re fully devoted to a sound, retro maybe but always effective, they’ve made an album which was sold out in a couple of days, and they have a terrific name that’s worth a hundred reviews. Boston Strangler do not hide a little localism, lucky we are they recorded an almost perfect record. Justin De Tore, drummer, played in a bunch of other bands (as the other guys did), and I met him at Armageddon in Boston, Dropdead Ben Barnett’s record shop, which is also a mandatory stop for anyone travelling in the US north-east (and that is casually located in the same building that hosted the old Taang Records shop).
SD: Let’s start with a funny thing. In Salad Days #6, 2010, Todd Jones from Nails told us you’re the best composer/riff-writer in hardcore…
BS: Ahah, for guitar? I can’t even play standard chords, I swear to God, I can only do power chords! If you see me playing live, terrible! I love that guy, but he must be crazy!
SD: Which are your bands we should listen to?
BS: You shouldn’t listen to any of them, that’s my opinion! By the way, the first band I was in that played out a lot and realized records was Mental, we started in 2001. I was in bands before that, I was in FYA, Down But Not Out, but those bands stayed local. After Mental I started playing in a lot more bands, Righteous Jams, then Mind Eraser…
SD: Which is the one you feel to be more your own band?
BS: I think I had the most creative license in Mind Eraser and Mental. I started playing in hardcore bands when I was 15, those are the band that were more serious or whatever, but I can’t even listen to the first Mind Eraser record, I cringe, you know what I mean?! I listened to the first Mental the other day and I thought it was good, but I’m afraid to listen to the first Mind Eraser!
SD: When did Boston Strangler get together?
BS: Me and Ben, the singer, became really good friends on this summer tour that his other band, Scapegoat, did with Mind Eraser. We had been talking about collaborating, and he had this vision for a Boston hardcore band only influenced by old Boston hardcore bands. He had all the songs, and in the summer of 2008 we demoed a bunch of shit, we did like 10 songs and most of them ended being on the Primitive Lp. It was just me and him recording, the band came later. We were busy with other bands, Mind Eraser played a lot at the time, and he had Scapegoat and Anxiety, so we kind of forget about it for a little while, until one, maybe 2 years later when we got the band together.
SD: What came first, the name or the sound of the band?
BS: Ahah, we knew what the band was gonna be about when we called it Boston Strangler. I think Ben had a vision that included the name even before he presented the songs to me.
SD: When did the demo happen?
BS: The recording I was talking about was just a rehearsal tape, there was a point when we actually didn’t know if we were gonna do the band. What Ben ended up doing was he recorded 5/6 songs by himself, he played all the instruments, he did the guitars, he did the vocals, drums, everything, and that became the BS demo. We did a run of it and then No Way Records did another pressing, that was the first BS material that was released to the public.
SD: What about the Lp?
BS: The Lp was recorded in September 2010, the songs were written before the demo. When we did the demo, we got some good feedback, we felt more inspired to record the Lp and put it out, and so we went to the Slaughterhouse in Western Mass. The recording went well, then there were a million delays, all these problems with the record pressing, just bullshit that delayed it for more than one year. It was a big mess, I’m just glad it finally came out. It’s out for Fun With Smack, that’s our friend Dan who plays in Waste Management, Free Spirit… I knew he was interested to put it out, and we all agreed it would be cool for him to put it out.
SD: So the record comes out, it’s sold out in 2/3 days, everybody talks about you, was that part of the plan?
BS: Not really! To be honest with you I didn’t know that anyone would give a shit about us. We were gonna press 800 records, and were like “do more than 800 people want the Boston Strangler record?”, at the time that’s what my thinking was. I don’t know how the all hype began, it is what it is. I understand that with a name like Boston Strangler we’re like pinning ourselves into a corner but I don’t give a shit, we’re just a hardcore band, nothing more nothing less, that doesn’t bother me.
SD: Is the demo better than the Lp?
BS: Ahah, it’s weird because the Lp songs were written before the demo, it’s tricky! In the history of hardcore, 9 times out of 10, the demo is usually better than the Lp, the 7″ is usually good, but the Lp usually sucks, I think it’s really hard to make a good hardcore LP. I guess you’ll have to judge on the second BS Lp that we’re gonna record soon.
SD: Have you ever thought about doing a shooting on the stairs of the State House?
BS: Ahah, I’d be down for that!
SD: In the classic tradition of the Boston hardcore scene, wouldn’t you start a rivalry with any city here?
BS: I don’t know, in 2012 to start a rivalry wouldn’t be genuine, it would just be us being assholes and picking up fights.
SD: Have you already played around with BS?
BS: We played New York, Toronto, Boston, we’re gonna do Texas, but we have not really been on tour. I’d like to, I think everyone is into it. We talked about Europe, we have been in contact with someone, might be German. It’d be weird to do Europe before California, but it’s 2012, I don’t really care!
SD: Coming from Italy, I know I saw some of the most intense shows in Boston, people thrown out of clubs… does it still happen?
BS: Hardcore shows in clubs don’t exist in Boston anymore, it’s very different from when I started going to shows.
SD: When did the troubles start?
BS: It all started when The Rat closed down, after that you had a place like the Middle East doing the majority of hardcore shows, and I think a combination of violence, lawsuits, not being able to make money off all ages shows, not being able to sell alcohol, that’s what led clubs to ban hardcore. Most of the shows in Boston happen in community centers halls…
SD: Which is the best place for a show now?
BS: I would say the Democracy Center which is in Harvard Square. I think the capacity is up to 150/200 people, the shows are always good, there’s a good vibe, cool bands playing, it’s always fun. In my opinion that’s the best place in Boston.
SD: What’s up with your absence on the web?
BS: I’ve always felt awkward in pimping out my bands on the internet, it’s not really my style. We haven’t really needed anything like that, I don’t think it’s wrong, but you can always get rid of a thousand records without being crazy and promoting the shit out of internet.
SD: Which is the style of music you don’t really want to play, and which is the one you’d like but never found the right people for?
BS: The music I could never play is metalcore, recordings are really fake sounding, fashion based, I can’t do that. As far as the music I would like to do, it would be something like AC/DC or Van Halen…
SD: So you love the glam side of rocknroll?
BS: I’d like it to be dirty, not too glam, like vintage heavy metal, hard rock, cause that’s the kind of music I started listening before hardcore.
SD: Which is the record you used to play air guitar with?
Aerosmith’s Rocks! But I wasn’t meant for that! I got into Metallica’s Kill Em All, my life was over after that, I realized that’s the type of music I wanted to play. Then I discovered hardcore and the more extreme styles of music.
SD: Which is the first hardcore record you happened to love?
BS: Youth of Today, they’re still probably my favorite hardcore band, or at least in the top 5. Lyrics wise, look wise, music wise, they’re just classic.
SD: I love the books on the history of US hardcore, and it’s always told that the music came out of suburbs dissatisfaction, broken families… Where does the aggression you put in your playing come from today?
BS: I come from a wealthy family, it’s not I’m from a broken home, but there’s a different kind of rage that comes when you grow and you know you don’t fit in, your personality or your look do not fit in, there’s a unique aggression and anger that comes with it. I was always feeling alienated, feeling like people were exploiting me, bullying me, that’s where it came from for me, I can’t speak for the other guys. When I first discovered hardcore, that was the first time I felt like I belonged, I found something I could relate to, and being passionate about. For the most part nothing has changed, there have been times I might have been bitter about the scene, the state of hardcore, but it always felt like my identity, so no matter what kind of music I play or what I am doing with my life, I still feel like I’m an hardcore kid.
SD: Which were the records you brought in the studio to define the BS sound?
BS: First of all the guy we worked with has been part of the hardcore punk scene, so he had an idea about what we wanted to go for. First DYS, the first two SSD records, Jerry’s Kids…, those were the records we wanted to sound like, their guitar tones, their drums…
SD: Did you see the DYS reunion?
BS: I’ve seen it. And I thought it was bad! Lame. For the most part I don’t like reunions. I would respect them more if they’d just come back to pay their rent, to make money, but when they do that to retrieve past glories, I’m sick of that, especially when they’ve not been a part of the hardcore scene for a long time. It’s not something where you just come back and everything is okay. There are a couple of reunions I like, I thought Negative Approach was good, I thought they were more real than DYS.
SD: Which are the Boston records I should bring back home?
BS: There’s a band called Hoax from Western Mass, they were on Youth Attack and just did a record for Painkiller, they’re really good. The guitar players in BS have a new band called Peace Breakers, they have a good demo tape. I really like Free Spirit from Boston, Confines which is our bass player other band, No Faith are good too, Dry Hump…
(Txt By Marco Capelli; Pics by Reid Haithcock)