I did this one with Tim from Hands Tied in September of 1997. Pictures by me and Casey Kulas.
What is the history of Hands Tied and what is the current lineup now?
Hands Tied started around the same time Mouthpiece was calling it quits. I guess it was sometime early summer 1996. Hands Tied was an idea that came up during the 1995 Mouthpiece summer tour. At the time, we knew that Mouthpiece was going to be coming to an end soon. Matt, the guitarist from Mouthpiece, Ed the Mouthpiece roadie, and myself (Tim) all talked about starting a new band. Shortly after that tour Matt moved to Kentucky, therefore he was quickly out of the picture. Ed and I still wanted to get something going, so we started looking around for other members. At the same time, Ed and I were looking for members, Sean, the Mouthpiece bassist, and his friend Pat were starting to get a band together. Sean played me a tape to see if I was interested in singing for them. I told Ed about it and we decided to give it a try. Shortly after we started to get things together, we recorded a two-song demo that we just sent out to labels. We ended up doing a seven-inch with Equal Vision Records. We played a few shows and then the band started going through some internal problems. Sean had different goals for the band than Ed and I had, so Sean left Hands Tied. Shortly after, Pat left because he felt like he couldn’t go on without Sean. Ed and I started looking for new members immediately. We ended up with the lineup of:
We’re presently playing out again and preparing for a west coast winter tour.
I mentioned to you on Saturday that it will be one year this weekend since Mouthpiece broke up. Any thoughts on the past year?
The past year hasn’t gone as smoothly as I would have liked to seen it go. The member changes took up most of the summer of 1997. It took us awhile to find new members, practice, and get tight; and then it took awhile to start getting shows again. Things are starting to pick up now. My biggest disappointment is that the summer is almost over and we haven’t really done much as a band. We wanted to tour, that didn’t happen; we wanted to record for an LP, that hasn’t happened yet. Like I said, things are definitely starting to pick up. We’ve gotten a few new songs and are planning for a west coast winter tour. We’re also getting a lot of offers to play some really cool shows over the next couple of months. We’re going to be working very hard to get some goals accomplished. Hopefully you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot from Hands Tied in the near future.
How did you acquire your new members?
Well, we’ve known Matt Smith for a couple of years, and knew that he was into doing the same kind of music that we were. When we found out that he played guitar, we figured that we would give him a try. I met Espen about a year ago. He’s from Norway and came to visit America about a year or two ago. He stayed with us and went to a Mouthpiece show. He came back for another visit about half a year later and that’s when we talked about him possibly moving out here and playing for Hands Tied. As with Matt, Espen was also totally into doing the same style of music. Geoff, our drummer, I’ve known for as long as Mouthpiece was together. He probably went to every Mouthpiece show we ever played, at least in this area. He has been playing drums on and off for a few years. Once he actually got a drum set and we were in need of a drummer, we gave him a try. So far everything has gone better than I could have ever expected. This new lineup is so much better than the original lineup because we’re all on the same level. We all have common interests and have the same plans for the band. I couldn’t ask for things to go any better.
Will there be an LP soon?
Well, right now we’re working on getting together a lot of shows for the next few months. Since we haven’t been playing this whole summer, we want to try to make up for lost time. We did have an entire LP’s worth of material written before the member changes, but we decided to trash those songs. Sean and Pat wrote most of them without Ed and I around, so we didn’t have any input. We really didn’t like any of the songs that much anyway. Those songs probably would have been rewritten before we recorded them even if the other guys ended up staying in the band. As for now, we have about three brand new songs that we have written with the new lineup. I’m very happy with the way these new songs are coming together. The newer songs have more of a harder, pissed off sound to them. Definitely not as cheery as the seven inch stuff was. In my opinion, this new stuff sounds more like Antidote than Gorilla Biscuits. Hopefully we’ll be ready to record an LP this winter. There are no guarantees but I think it’s very possible. We’ll just have to see how things go.
Was the song on the Tension Building Fanzine compilation recorded when the 7” was recorded?
Yes, we recorded the seven-inch and the Tension Building song at the same time. We weren’t completely sure what songs were going to be on the seven inch and which song was going on the compilation. I guess we just decided after we recorded. That song, “Lost Ground,” was kind of chosen by Steve from Tension Building to be on his compilation anyway. Steve was there when we recorded everything, so he had his choice.
How involved are you in the internet?
I actually try to get on the internet once a night. Sometimes I don’t get a chance to get on for a few days. I usually just check out a few selected pages, check my email, and that’s about it. I rarely go into any chat rooms. Almost every time I log on, I find people talking shit about me, my band, and my friends. After awhile, it just becomes ridiculous. I highly doubt any of these people know me personally to talk about me. The funny thing is that not once has anybody actually confronted me face to face. They simply talk shit on a computer, sign a fake name, and I end up never hearing a word from them again. They’re just a bunch of spineless cowards with nothing better to do with their boring lives. These cowards mean nothing and they will be on their way out of the hardcore scene as soon as they graduate high school. I have three words to say to these pieces of shit…get a life!
What webpages do you like? Anything non-hardcore related?
My favorites are Revelation, Equal Vision, Straight-Edge.com, Impact, Hold True, and Meltdown. Other than hardcore related webpages, I like NBA.com, Sneaker Nation, Nike.com, and a few other Air Jordan and sneaker related webpages. There’s actually so many incredible webpages, I just don’t have enough time in the day to check many new ones out. I usually go to any of those pages I mentioned and check out their links also.
What do you think of Michael Jordan’s new contract?
Michael Jordan has been such an underpaid player for so many years, he deserves whatever he gets. He is hands down the best basketball player of all time. There is not one player around today that plays with the same dedication and emotion that Jordan does. When Jordan wants to win a game, he wins it. He has brought so much excitement and newfound interest to the game of basketball and the NBA that he deserves to get paid whatever he feels he is worth. If that new contract assures that I’ll get to see another season of Michael Jordan playing basketball, I’m all for it.
Do you think The Bulls are going to win another title?
If Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen are playing for The Bulls, there is a very good chance that they will win another title. As a matter of fact, I’d have no problem guaranteeing another championship out of those guys. Once they leave Chicago though, it will all come to an end. There are a lot of great young teams out there in the NBA, but none of them can really compete with the well experienced team of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
What do you think of Dennis Rodman?
I think he’s an incredible rebounder, probably the best in the NBA, but I think some of his off court antics are ridiculous. Whatever though, as long as he plays his heart out and keeps diving for those rebounds, I’m content.
Any upcoming shows of note?
We’re playing a show in Long Island NY on the 19th of September and on the 20th we’re playing in Buffalo. We’re getting a lot of shows together right now, but nothing is really definite. I think we’ll be touring Europe in January, but we still have a lot of planning to do for that.
I keep hearing about a show on the 21st in New Brunswick?
We were planning on playing a show at the Down Under in New Brunswick on the 21st of September, but the show kinda got cancelled. There’s a show in NYC with Agnostic Front and Killing Time the same night, that’s why they didn’t go through with the NJ show for us. It looks like the show will be rescheduled for sometime in October.
Was the transition to new members hard?
The transition to new members took about a month for us to get everything down well. We got all of the old songs down tight, and started writing new material soon after. Right now, the band is doing better than it ever has been. I’m totally happy with the direction our new songs are heading in and the lineup as a whole is so much more in tune with one another. We all pretty much have the same plans, goals, and expectations for Hands Tied. Right now, our guitarist Espen is in Norway trying to apply for citizenship here in America. His visa just ran out, so he had to go back there and get some things straightened out. While he’s gone, we’ll probably get somebody to fill in for him, but hopefully he’ll be able to get back here soon.
What is the most punk thing you’ve ever done?
Can’t say I’ve done too many “punk” things in my lifetime, but there’s one thing that comes to my mind. It must have been the first time I ever saw Sick Of It All, probably 1989. It was at City Gardens in Trenton, NJ. I was upfront singing along, having fun, being psyched, when all of a sudden, somebody picked me up and forced me to the top of the crowd. Now what you have to understand is at this time, City Gardens didn’t permit stage diving. They had about four huge bouncers that would grab any stage divers, ruff them up and then psychically throw them out the back door. Getting caught stage diving by one of those huge bouncers was definitely not something you wanted to do. Once I got on top of the crowd, I ended up on the stage. I looked into the crowd and saw all four bouncers eyeing me up and motioning to each other to get me. At this point, I’m scared to death, so I dive off the stage. It’s pretty much all I could do to get down anyway. Next thing I know, this kid pulls me down from the crowd and pushes me down to try and hide me. I’m on my knees, hiding, scared shitless, sweating, having trouble breathing, and being unable to see nothing but legs and shoes. After about two minutes, the kid who pulled me down brings me back up. He says, “You’re clear. They gave up on ya.” I guess I was safe at this period, but my body was so psychically shocked from the whole experience that I threw up on the back of some punker dude with a black leather jacket on in front of me. Believe me, it was a lot of throw up too. The guy didn’t know and I surely wasn’t going to tell him. I guess I survived though, I felt pretty punk after that was over.
Did Mouthpiece ever play City Gardens?
Yes, Mouthpiece played City Gardens four times. The first time we played there, it was with Insted, Vision, and Eye For An Eye, the second time we played with Shelter and Into Another, the third time we played with Down By Law, and the fourth time we played Iceburn and Endpoint. City Gardens was definitely the best club in New Jersey. I went to my first hardcore show there in 1987; it was The Descendents on their last tour. I feel like I grew up going to that club, I definitely saw quite a few incredible shows there. I’m just happy I got to play on that stage a few times, it’s too bad that I’ll probably never get that chance again.
What was your reaction to Raybeez’s death?
I was completely surprised. At first, I thought it was just another internet rumor, but after awhile the talk began to sound very believable. It’s not often that you hear about somebody in the hardcore scene dying. I think it’s because hardcore is such a young music, most of the people involved are still fairly young. I definitely liked Warzone, but never knew Raybeez personally. It’s a definite loss to the hardcore scene and he will be missed. Luckily, he was able to record some very good records that will forever leave an impact on people. He will never be forgotten.
Who are you voting for in the November election?
As for the upcoming November election, I’m not really sure who I’m going to be voting for as of yet. I know car insurance in NJ is outwardly ridiculous and disgustingly expensive, so whoever has the answer to that will probably get my vote. I don’t see Whitman making any vital changes with the insurance thing so far, so I probably won’t be voting for her. I’ll definitely have to look into things a little more, I don’t feel I’m 100% sure as of yet.
What labels did Hands Tied talk to before settling on Equal Vision?
We didn’t really talk to any other labels. We sent a two-song demo type tape out to a bunch of different labels, but Equal Vision was what we were shooting for. I had known Steve EVR for a while and he had always wanted to do something with my old band (Mouthpiece), so when this new band came together, we thought we’d give Steve a try.
With the new lineup, will there be new cover songs?
We’ve been practicing a few different cover songs, but haven’t quite nailed one down yet. It seems like whenever we do a cover song by an old band that we like, nobody in the crowd knows it. That kind of ends up defeating the purpose of doing a cover song. We’ve been playing “City To City” by DYS and kids just haven’t picked up on it. Early towards the beginning of the band when we did “Clear” by Bold and “We Just Might” by Youth of Today, kids seem to know those songs. But when we go a little further back and try playing covers by bands like DYS or The Faith, kids just don’t know the songs. We’ve dabbled with the idea of doing a Negative Approach song, an Antidote song, or a 7 Seconds song, but haven’t figured out which one we’d definitely want to play. Hopefully, by playing older cover songs, it might open kids up to older bands that they might not have taken interest in if it wasn’t for us. Ultimately, I just want to play something that I like and have fun when we play it.