Interview with CURMUDGEON

If you ask me what has been my favorite debut release for a new band during 2011 my answer would be simple and clear : Curmudgeon’s Human Ouroboros. The news of the upcoming repress of the EP on vinyl plus a new single coming out in the next months thrilled me, so I was stoked when Krystina, the singer, agreed to make this interview. So here she is, the anger-spitting voice of Curmudgeon, enjoy her words!

Q : First of all, thanks for accepting to answer this interview! Is everything fine?

A : Thank you for your interest in Curmudgeon! I am very excited to be on your blog and blabber on about my band…

Q : Unavoidable questions : how you came up with your monicker? What is its mening?

A : We actually came up with the band name before the band was even formed – it was an idea for another band that our drummer Ryan B. and I were previously in. That band ended up being called Unperson, but we liked the name Curmudgeon so much that once we disbanded, another band was formed to use that name! Simply put, a curmudgeon is a bad-tempered, sour person. Seeing as most of our lyrics are of an angry, political nature, we somewhat embody the spirit of the name.

Q : Unavoidable questions part #2 : how did you get together? What are your influences?

A : As I mentioned previously, Ryan B (drummer) and I played together in another band, which was also of the powerviolence persuasion. Ryan B. was on guitar in that band, and once our drummer left to go to college in Canada, we disbanded. Our good friend Ryan S. was starting to play guitar and write songs, so we decided to join up with him and try our hand at a new band. Ryan B. switched instruments, which was pretty simple because he also plays drums in a stoner metal band called Olde Growth. We all sort of come from different scenes – Ryan B. grew up listening to metal, Ryan S. was more into new school hardcore and I have tended to favor hardcore punk bands. However, we all have some favorites in common: Infest, Crossed Out, Assuck, Megadeth and a few others. I don’t really know how these bands influence our sound, but it seems that our differing tastes bring a whole menagerie of sounds and ideas to the table.

Q : Your tape, Human Ouroboros, gained a lot of attention in the scene. What kind of feedbacks have you received?

A : Feedback has been very positive! It’s super exciting to put something musical out in the world and receive so much encouraging feedback on it – it’s certainly a first for me. I know it’s not wise to put a lot of emphasis on what reviewers say, but it’s hard to not get wrapped up in what fanzines and websites have to say. I grew up treating Maximum Rock n Roll as my personal bible – I would literally circle reviews of records that looked good and grow my record collection based on that! So, for me, positive feedback is a very exciting thing, silly as it might be sometimes. More importantly, though, are the kind, supportive words I’ve received from women in the scene. I have actually formed friendships because women appreciated what we are saying/doing in Curmudgeon and have reached out to me. That has been amazing.

Q :The physical edition of the tape is really good looking and complete. Was it an idea od yours? How have you developed it?

A : Thank you! Our guitarist, Ryan S., completely came up with the idea for the packaging. We all like the idea of having something carefully handmade and elaborate, but still costing only a few bucks. It was very time consuming to copy, cut and glue everything, but I think the end result was worth it! I think everyone in the band is thrilled when you buy a record and have some inserts or other packaging to sit down, read, look at and maybe even hang up on your wall. It is nice to have something that doesn’t just feel like it was haphazardly slapped together.

Q : I’ve found your lyrics to be very clever and interesting. Who writes them? Can you explain your views on them?

A : Again, thank you! I do the majority of the lyric writing. Ryan B. wrote one song on the Human Ourboros EP (“Gran Machismo”) and one song on the upcoming 7”, but otherwise I do the lyric writing and bounce ideas off of Ryan B when I am stuck on phrasing or placement. My lyrics are largely political, but from a personal perspective. I like to write about political and social issues, but I don’t want to write vague protest songs that are irrelevant to my life (and maybe yours).

[from http://fuckyeahsxe.tumblr.com/%5D

Q : There’s a lot of commentaries that enhanches the lyrical depth of the tape. Have you felt that lyrics weren’t enough or it was just a natural extension of them?

A : There are a few reasons for having lyric explanations along with our lyrics. First, when it comes to writing for powerviolence songs, I often worry that 1 minute is not enough time to convey a full-formed thought. I see explanations as a sort of footnote to the idea I’m trying to express. Second, I want to make sure that folks know our lyrics are an important part of the band. I am not trying to yell about total bullshit – we are actually trying to spread messages and create dialogue with people. Lofty goals for a dumb punk band, I’m sure, but we are trying! Curmudgeon, before we recorded, actually made little zines of our lyrics and explanations to hand out at shows in lieu of merch. Third, I absolutely love Kill The Man Who Questions and have been inspired by their inclusion of lyric explanations!

Q : You talk about the role of women in the scene. There are a lot of female fronted bands around (and, btw, I’m so glad about it, I really hope that saying that a band is fronted by a girl becomes a normal thing and not a pecualirity to point out like an exotic thing…) and you are one of the best one recently spawned. How do you see this situation? Can you expand what you said in the commentary of Shut Out?

A : Talking about being a woman in the punk/hardcore scene seems to be my mission in life lately, but I think it will become less necessary, as women are becoming a force to be reckoned with! I have certainly felt marginalized in the scene, or exoticized as you say (“female-fronted hardcore” is not a sub-genre, contrary to what some show promoters think….), but the instances are becoming rarer and rarer. However, I am also lucky to be involved in a great, supportive scene in the Northeast US, and I realize not all women share my experiences. In “Shut Out”, I am trying to start a conversation about the ways in which women feel we can be involved in the scene. While being in a band is certainly not the epitome of community contribution, I worry that women are still forced into roles of ONLY cooking for bands, cleaning up after shows/potlucks, taking photos from BEHIND a camera – and these are roles created by men, and roles that support their boy’s club of a scene. I think women doing anything and everything in the scene is great and commendable, but our roles should be chosen by us.

Q : Can you explain something about the concept of Allston FOAD?

A : Allston FOAD is certainly a regional reference – Allston is a part of Boston that is almost exclusively home to asshole college students and scumbag punkers. Quite the combination. Both dislike each other, and yet they exhibit the same self-destructive, nihilistic behaviors! The term “human ouroboros” is a take on the idea of a snake eating its own tail – only instead of being reborn, it selfishly consumes itself.

Q : What can we expect from Curmudgeon live? There’s an ABC No Rio video floating around the net but, judging from some photos, your gig can be very wild…

A : Our live sets are often a struggle for me because I am so humbled and happy to be playing music that I love for anyone, ever, anywhere, but I also am yelling about upsetting shit and trying to get into my “angry place”. I might be pissed and roaring the lyrics, but song explanations can come off as timid, with lots of “um”s and laughing. It is a difficult balance, to channel my anger into a live set that doesn’t come off as too aggressive or even unappreciative of the audience. I am always pleased, however, with how many women are often up front when we play a show. That is absolutely the most exciting thing.

Q : You are from Boston, a city with a strong hardcore tradition. How is this scene nowdays?

A : The scene here is insane! Everytime I see Brainkiller play I literally think “I cannot believe this band is THIS FUCKING GOOD.” Scapegoat are another band who I have that same experience with! We are also great friends with the guys in Draize, and they are creating some of my favorite hardcore these days, from Boston or not. We certainly go through lulls here in city, though, as we largely rely on house basements to host shows and the cops crack down pretty seriously on that kind of activity. Plus, with the city being so college-centered, the turnover rate of houses is even higher. Even though I consider myself pretty clued-in, there are some nights I’m frantically texting everyone I know to get the address of some random house that is hosting a show.

Q : What is your view on DIY and the worlwide scene in general?

A : I could go on for days about what the DIY community means to me, so I’ll spare you and just say that it means everything to me. I cannot imagine my life without the underground punk/hardcore scene! As much as I love seeing great bands, experiencing great shows, listening to amazing records and so on, the relationships that I’ve formed with people thanks to the scene is what matters the most to me. I will literally go a year without seeing a friend and when their band randomly rolls through my town, its like we were never apart. The bonds that we form over this silly punk music is mind blowing to me. Also, after 10 years of being involved in this stuff, I am finally making friends & penpals internationally! My world is getting both larger and smaller at the same time….

Q : What about Curmudgeon’s future?

A : Well, most urgently we have a record coming out right now! The Human Ouroboros EP is being pressed to vinyl for the first time. It is being released by our friends at Nervous Nelly Records and we are very honored to be their first release. Next up, we have a self-titled 7” being split released by To Live A Lie and Bullshit Propaganda – Will at BSP is an old friend from home, and Will at TLAL is a new friend – both have been awesome to work with! We are really, really proud of this record can’t wait to tour with it. We are going out for 10 days in mid/late January, making a quick little trek down to Florida and back. Touring is one of my favorite things, so I am basically counting down the minutes until we leave. Hopefully the spring will include a few weekend tours, one with our pals in Bullshit Tradition from Vermont. I am hoping to do a little summer jaunt out to Chicago and back, and maybe…Europe at the end of next year? I feel like it is getting easier to tour internationally, so if we can get our shit together that is something we’d love to do!

Q : Ok, thanks for your time! End as you prefer!

A :Thank you so much for the support! Hopefully I haven’t bored anyone too terribly. I appreciate all correspondance, and it can be directed to weriserex@gmail.com. I am also going to take advantage of this forum to plug my cassette tape label and distro: http://werise.storenvy.com. Thanks again!

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~ by petetheripper on December 14, 2011.

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