We did this interview at Princeton Arts Council in May of 1998. I believe this show was with Speak 714, Rain On The Parade, and Automatic. I can’t really tell you about what they are doing these days, but at the time we all really liked Ensign. A lot of my memories of that era have been soured over the years, but we used to have a lot of fun whenever Ensign played. Their first 7” has held up pretty well over the years. Justin and I handled most of the questions. When I went to type this up I was pleasantly surprised by how Justin takes over for a good portion of the interview. There are also the usual patented silly questions from John and Justin, this time about the sexual orientation of characters on Scooby Doo. I had this strange fixation about the logo on The Direction Of Things To Come for some reason. We also got some grief because of John’s comment about Jordan Cooper. Certain parties asked us to edit that out in future pressings (not Jordan; actually, I don’t think I’ve ever even spoken to him now that I think about it) and when we said “uh, no” those parties got really bummed. Oh well. All Ages had just came out and the asinine answers a lot of people give in that book really pissed us off. In the car on the way to the show I had been reading it and was really angry by the time we got to the show. This was the beginning of all three of us really souring on the youth crew and, in general, Straight Edge scene. Anyhow, Tim Shaw handles this interview on Ensign’s end. This was day two of a big weekend of shows. I had just finished flunking out of my first year of college and to “celebrate” we hit up shows for the next three days. Friday evening was Breakdown/Fastbreak/In My Eyes/Floorpunch/Full Speed Ahead/Ensign. Saturday was Ensign/Automatic/Speak 714/Rain On The Parade and then Sunday was Ten Yard Fight/Speak 714/Fastbreak/Automatic. I busted my hand up really bad on Saturday I remember. Explaining that to my co-workers the next week was, as usual, rather aggravating. It’s pretty funny reading this back and remembering Victory’s brief flirtation with bands like Murphy’s Law and a time when Mackenzie was just the kid from Prospect who I never heard talk.
Bill-I guess we will start this out and ask who is in the band.
Tim-Me, my name is Tim, Nate on bass, Ryan on drums, and our newest member Mackenzie on guitar.
Bill-X Mob, man
Tim-Prospect…X Prospect X
Bill-Okay so I have three questions and then we can go from there…is Underdog really back together or were you just fucking with us?
Tim-It’s a rumor. I heard it from somebody at Revelation, but I don’t believe any of the rumors anymore. Ryan, if there is a chance a band might get back together, he won’t play the song which I kind of agree with; it’s kind of cheesy
Bill-When you mentioned it last night…people are already posting it on the internet….
Tim-I don’t know you can call Revelation because Ritchie works there, but to be on the safe side we stopped covering it
Bill-Into Another is broken up I think
Justin-Really? That sucks!
Tim-He is running art direction at Revelation
Bill-Okay, now for the internet question: Talk shit, Tim
Tim-I have very mixed feelings about the internet. I think it could be a very useful tool but there are too many little children who want to use it to talk shit and start fights. It is useless right now. The only thing I use it for is to email back and forth with people.
Bill-If it wasn’t for the internet I wouldn’t be doing the compilation I am doing with Craig from Talk Is Cheap Fanzine. I’ve met so many cool people, especially the Australian hardcore kids…they fucking rule, so that’s why I tried hooking you guys up to get you down there
Tim-For that stuff it’s awesome and I think you could go into a chat room and be like “here is the show, it starts at ____” but you get into the chat room and it’s “Tim Shaw was talking shit about this band” and then someone from the band logs on and is like “Yo we are going to show up at the show tonight and beat him up” it’s ridiculous. I don’t think half the shit talking that is said goes on really goes on, I don’t think the bands care that much. If that much shit talking went on in hardcore there would be fights at every show.
Bill-I get the feeling that when people talk shit about me that it’s the same kid over and over again. When I go to shows everybody is always cool but there is always those one or two who give you dumb looks, but I always have this feeling it’s the same few people. It’s not 50,000 people like it’s sometimes made out to be.
Tim-It’s somebody with a grudge. Like I said tonight, if I hear it I talk to the kid to his face because nine out of ten times they’ll deny it.
Bill-They never post under their real name
Tim-Oh no, never, it’s all a big game
Justin-It’s good in theory
Tim-Yeah I think it has good applications but it can’t be used right now
Bill-Jeff Perlin used to post on the Rev Board until a week ago when all these assholes were posting racist shit. I mean, they are probably “joking” or whatever, but Jeff was like, yo, that’s fucked up!
* Various muttering about Breakdown ruling *
Bill-Okay so my third question-What’s up with Ensign stealing the Mariner’s logo?
Bill-Okay. When the record came out I was like “what the fuck?”
Justin-I just thought it looked really glossy
Bill-(still harping on this like it was an important issue) Did Ryan pick it because he is from Seattle?
Tim-Dave Mandel came up with it
Justin-It looks really slick
Tim-Yeah that’s gonna be the new thing in hardcore. We took it because it was a compass with the whole direction…
Justin-Do you think Freddie from Scooby Doo is gay?
Tim-I’m not stereotyping people, but I don’t see many people wearing assocs. But, then again, it was the sixties.
Justin-Doesn’t Austin Powers wear one? He is pretty hetro.
Tim-Maybe he is…but then you could say the girl with the glasses would be a lesbian.
Tim-He was a free spirit
Justin-But he always ended up with the girl
Tim-Yeah he always ended up alone with the girl. He might have been a real femme guy who gets tons of girls
Bill-He could have been a model when he wasn’t solving capers
Justin-Do you think that bands that get back together push the attention away from the good things we have now?
Tim-There is one band in particular, I’m not gonna talk shit, but they come back with ex-members and their first show they are headlining over Floorpunch, over Ensign, over In My Eyes…bands that work really hard in 1998 to be an active part of the hardcore scene.
Justin-I thought Speak 714 was cool because they didn’t headline.
Tim-Yeah when Speak 714 booked their tour they said they didn’t want to headline which is cool. Like certain bands get back together and…
Bill-I’ll talk shit: Better Than A Thousand. They played their first show and headlined.
Tim-I know there is a lot of bands out there that work hard and because Mark Porter isn’t a scene star, Ronny Little, Tim Shaw…the band with the scene star is the band everyone is going to be there to see. It sucks because bands work really hard.
Justin-It’s a given when you have Civ or Ray or someone like that people are going to be psyched.
Tim-I know Ray and Civ have paid their dues but when you start over you gotta start at the bottom.
Bill-It’s a new beginning. A good example of that is Mouthpiece and Hands Tied. Mouthpiece headlined shows and now Hands Tied started from the bottom and is working their way up.
Justin-If Underdog does get back together people will say “oh wow, Ensign is playing!” but in the back of their minds…
Bill-Like the Cro Mags show
Justin-But that’s the Cro Mags!
Tim-Yeah, that’s the Cro Mags. I think the difference is when some former straight edge all star comes back and everyone is like “oh my god, it’s Ray/Dan O or whatever I think there is a big difference between that and the Cro Mags or Breakdown getting back together. It would be cool if say…Lou Kollar had a side band but when it is someone who hasn’t had anything to do with the scene for years they are like “oh wow hardcore is pretty popular now.”
Tim-Yeah, Matt, Ray, what about the bands that are here today?
Bill-How about bands that have always been here like Murphy’s Law?
Justin-Hogan’s Heroes, they’ve been around and now they are on Victory….
Bill-What do you think of the new “old school” Victory Records?
Tim-I think Tony needed some bands. I’m not Victory’s biggest fan, I make no bones about it. Strife are friends of mine but they’re broken up now. Snapcase are friends of mine but I don’t think they are on the label anymore. I think the Hatebreed record is really awesome. You can’t really say anything bad about Tony, he’s just trying to get bands to keep his label alive. They asked us but we turned it down. Too much politics, too much stuff, goes along with it.
Bill-I think, and it goes the same with Equal Vision and Revelation, they go in these cycles of whatever is cool. Victory went from Even Score and Inner Strength and all these horrible bands or even worse stuff like Earth Crisis. It’s just weird they went from Firestorm to signing Murphy’s Law.
Tim-Tony is a businessman, he is just looking out.
John-Jordan Cooper is an asshole.
Bill-I read All Ages in the van today and I was really bummed out by some of the things he said.
Tim-Well he’s done a lot for hardcore. There were a few years there where I thought Revelation was the worst label on the earth. Now I can’t say that because they have In My Eyes. Now we are kind of connected to Indecision which is an exclusive part of Revelation. We might as well be on Revelation. I’m all for labels getting bands, but there was a period of time when the Victory empire…if you weren’t a Victory band no one gave a shit. That’s fucking ridiculous.
Justin-Colored vinyl pisses me off.
Tim-I collect but I’m not obsessive about it. But Ensign is all guilty as anyone else because we did limited presses for Europe. I do it because I think “wow, that’s a cool idea.” If I can get it, I get it, If I can’t, I can’t. You know what though, if you really listen to your records, colored vinyl does not sound as good. It’s a technical fact. My Floorpunch on Gold, it’s unlistenable, but my black one is.
Bill-Well if it’s a remastered you should buy it on CD; Mickey and I were just talking about that.
Tim-I love to collect records but I don’t live a lifestyle where I can shell out $150 for a four song seven inch.
Bill-Have you ever seen that auction Revelation does?
Tim-Yeah, it’s sick.
Bill-I went on there a couple days ago; the first press for Speak Out with no matrix, the gate fold cover, and all that stuff went for $270. That was the first bid, it’s not even like it went up!
Justin-The thing that gets me is sometimes getting the record means more than listening to the record.
Bill-The kids on the trade board just post all their cool records for scene points.
*At this point we bullshit about various New Jersey bands. For some reason I never transcribed this stuff. Somehow we segway into discussing European youth crew kids. *
Bill-European hardcore kids seem to be really obsessed with, well, New Jersey hardcore. They find out you are from New Jersey and you get put up on a pedestal. I guess because Floorpunch, or Ensign, or whoever isn’t there everyday they get so hyped up.
Justin-We take it for granted so much.
John-We do the same with a band like Underdog or Antidote who we haven’t seen.
Tim-Going over there I don’t think there was really a lot of hero worship. As soon as we were done everyone would be upfront asking questions and hanging out. When we finished, if we didn’t play long enough, you fucking bet we heard about it. Every so often a kid will relate me to Sick Of It All, but I’m not Lou or Pete, so…For awhile we played every weekend in New Jersey but after awhile you get sick of us.
Bill-I’m ready for another set right now. Are there still a lot of nazi skinheads in Germany?
Tim-They don’t go to shows over there; it’s always been very political here they came to hardcore shows, got the shit beat out of them and never came back. In Europe it’s purely political.
Justin-Doesn’t it suck now that when Sick Of It All plays they don’t play many old songs?
Tim-They play old songs!? They’ve got so many records now. There isn’t a Sick Of It All record I don’t like.
Justin-(Clearly not convinced) Yeah, I guess…
*At this point we get interrupted a few times by various people. I think the show was wrapping up and they were really trying to get people out of the place.*
Justin-Is there any particular person that song Hold is about?
Tim-Just a general thing. Nate actually wrote the lyrics and I had a long discussion with him about it. When someone else in the band write lyrics I have to sit down and talk to them to see if it is something that I agree with. There is an aspect of that, it’s supposed to be a positive thing to that, says there is always going to be people who walk away, but there is always going to be people who stick with you. It’s a fact of life, it’s not even just a hardcore thing.
Bill-Okay I think we need to shut up now.