Interview was conducted during March of 2007 by Justin Bragg. Originally, this interview would have been published in Quick Fix Magazine. Photos by Fred Hammer and Brian Froustet.
JB: Ok, so lets get the formalities out of the way- who is who and what do they play?
Tim McMahon – Vocals, Ed McKirdy – Guitar, Jason Jammer – Drums, Tim Kriependorf – bass
JB: You guys are obviously going for a different style when compared to your previous bands. Vocally, I noticed you were trying something different as well. Was this intentional? I mean, when I first heard “A New Chapter” I remember thinking to myself “is that Tim?”
I think to an extent, the different style was intentional, but it also came natural. With our other bands, we played your standard late 80’s influenced straight edge hard core. I had been doing that style of hardcore for close to 14 years. As much as I’ve always loved that style of hardcore and still do, there are other styles out there that we’ve always been in to as well. I think we were all on this long hard Black Flag / BL’AST! trip when Triple Threat was coming together. Speaking for myself, I was listening to all the Black Flag material pretty much everyday, day in, day out. I was also reading all the Rollins books around the same time as well. I thought it would be cool to do a Black Flag influenced hardcore band, like BL’AST!, but full on straight edge and with some of the classic late 80’s straight edge hardcore sound leaking in. We all saw eye to eye on this and were definitely on the same page with what we wanted Triple Threat to mold into, so nothing was forced. Vocally I’m not sure I really put a whole lot of thought into sounding different. I think the slight change in vocal style is just a natural progression and maturation. With my earlier bands I just yelled and didn’t really try to contour my voice around the music. These days I’ve had many years of other vocalists influences soak in and lots of practice, so what comes out is a product of all of that.
JB: Do any of you guys skate? If so, what do you ride? The reason I ask is because Triple Threat is on heavy rotation on the soundtrack to my skate sessions.
The only person in Triple Threat that even still has a skateboard is myself. Although I don’t skate too often these days, I’ve made it a point to always have one available in the case that I do want to skate. Over this past summer, I went on tour doing merch for Mike Vallely, so I was doing a little skating here and there then, but mostly just watching and talking about it. I find that whenever I do skate and end up taking a fall, the pain doesn’t go away as quickly as it did in my younger years. With work and kids, it would be real rough if I was to break an arm or anything for that matter, so I’m pretty careful when I hit the concrete these days.
JB: If hardcore were a sport, what sport would it be and why?
I guess I have to go with football. You have to have stamina and some sort of strength with doing a band or just pilling up front at a show. Football is also a full contact sport and hardcore can definitely be considered a full contact sport as well. Just watch a football game and see what happens when a team fumbles a ball, both teams pile on top of each other trying to gain or re-gain possession. If that doesn’t remind you of a hardcore show, I don’t know what does.
JB: Why did you guys feel the need to include “Break it” on both the ep and the lp?
I think we’ve always considered “Break It” to be one of out stronger tracks from the ep and since originally recording it, we’ve added some different elements to it. I know I definitely was happier with what I did vocally this time around on the Lp as compared to the ep. Aside from that, considering the Lp was being released on Bridge 9 and the ep was released on Livewire, we were kind of introducing ourselves all over again, so why not re-record one of our favorite early tracks.
JB: What’s the deal with the CBGB’s 7″? Will this come out sometime before I die?
Yeah the Live at CB’s 7″ should actually be released pretty soon. Here’s the story with that record; Originally, with the release of our “Into The Darkness” LP on Bridge 9, there was going to be a free give away “Live at CBGB” 7″ to those who pre-ordered the CD. Unfortunately the live 7″ fell through with B9 due to time constraints and we went for a limited edition screen printed poster instead for the pre-order deal. Since we had the live recordings and still liked the idea of releasing the 7″, we decided we’d just release it ourselves on Livewire and limit it to 200 copies. It’s not suppose to be some big hyped up release, but more so just a fun way to remember our last opportunity of playing CB’s. At this point the records are pressed, we’re just waiting on the covers to be printed. I’d expect to see the record available within the next month or so.
JB: I have seen some good reviews for your records and I have seen some not so good ones. For all of the haters out there- did you guys intentionally try to sound like B’last! and/or Black Flag? Would that be such a bad thing? I think you guys come off with a different sound, but with obvious influences. What do you say to those who think you guys are just a rehash/rip-off type band?
Like I said earlier, at the start of Triple Threat, we all had Black Flag and BL’AST! records on steady rotation. Both bands were bands that we’ve all listened to and liked forever, but never really let influence our sound. With Triple Threat we just let the flood gates open and what ever sculpted our sound, sculpted our sound. Honestly a lot of the early LA punk was a huge influence on the beginnings of Triple Threat. Whether or not the early LA punk sound is obvious, I know what we were surrounding ourselves with at the time. The Germs and Circle Jerks were also a huge influence, but you won’t hear people mention that. What Triple Threat ultimately is, is four straight edge hardcore kids from bands like Mouthpiece and Hands Tied, submersing themselves in the early to mid 80’s LA punk scene. Is it a rehash or rip off… I don’t think so, but people are going to draw their own opinions. When you really think about it, pretty much everything that happens musically in hardcore these days is a derivative of some other hardcore band. No bands that I hear are truly original and have a sound completely all their own. I think there are far more bands around these days that are trying to sound like Floorpunch then BL’AST!, so whatever. For the most part the critics just don’t get it, that’s my impression anyway. They think nothing of a by the numbers Floorpunch rip off band complete with the collegeiant font logo and generic name, but when a band goes for a sound that’s as distinct as Black Flag, everyone starts screaming. We don’t do Triple Threat for anyone except ourselves. If people enjoy the band and get something from it, cool. If it goes over their heads or they just don’t like it, that’s cool as well. Either way, we’ll keep doing our thing.
JB: You guys have played out since 2005, what has been the reaction to your live shows?
Actually our first show was June of 2004, so we’ve been playing out for three years now. Reaction wise, it’s varied. We’ve had great shows with people packed up front, singing along and having fun and we’ve had some less than stellar shows with 3 people up font and one of those people dressed in a beer bottle costume. The reaction to this band is like none I’ve ever had in my previous bands, but I guess I have to expect that. Times have changed, we’re older, our music is not a style that’s particularly hip at this point, we can’t tour all that much, so we have some things going against us. Ideally I would love to have every show packed and constant crowd participation, but if that doesn’t happen, we simply take what we want from the music we’re playing and just leave it all out there on the stage. I think overall, there are a lot of people who appreciate and get what we’re doing, unfortunately for us, they are spread out all over the world and not in concentrated areas.
JB: I’m not one to believe that ideas are restricted to some timeline. Some say that hardcore has been dead for a while. What is your reaction to this?
I’m not so sure hardcore is something that can actually be killed. There may not be a load of bands around these days that I love or a lot of great shows happening every weekend, but that doesn’t mean that an entire music form is dead. Times change, it’s inevitable. What might seem like the glory days to one person, means nothing to another. It’s all about what’s happening when you get into it. When I got into hardcore around 1986, there were tons of people that considered it dead at that point. Just check out the movie or read the book “American Hardcore”. To me, hardcore was at it’s best and strongest in and around the late 80’s. To the guy who wrote “American Hardcore”, it was virtually non-exsitent in the late 80’s. It’s all up for personal interpretation. To me, there is no restricted timeline to a form of music and ideas. To think that it’s honestly dead because you are not as much involved as you were at one point, or because certain bands do not exist anymore just isn’t reality.
JB: What current bands would you say play the hardcore style best?
One of my favorite current hardcore bands has to be The First Step. They are by no means new to the scene, they’ve been playing for years now, but I guess they are a relatively young band. Knowing those guys, I can assure you that they are very sincere and dedicated to their music and message. They also know hardcore very well. Most of the guys have played in a slew of bands in their past. I think first and foremost, they are fans of hardcore music. A lot of times, you will have bands made up of people and there will be at least one or two members that just aren’t as in tune with things as the other members. With The First Step, they are like a well oiled machine, all parts working perfectly together. All members have distinct personalities, but manage to gel well together and play quality hardcore.
JB: Does hardcore have defined rules?
There are no rules in hardcore, if anything there’s more like a code. You know or at least should know how to compose yourself when going to a hardcore show. You watch out for one another, you respect one another. When a band is on tour and you respect that band, you offer to help them out, give them a place to stay. Hardcore is almost like a secret society. The normal world has enough rules and regulations, we should be able to take what we need from the outside world and apply it in a common sense way to our world.
JB: I personally don’t believe that there are definitive rules to hardcore, which has often lead me to wonder why are we so unorganized? In other words, consistency in venues, bands touring , bands staying together, etc… is greatly lacking in my opinion. Is it the nature of the beast?
I think we’re unorganized because for the most part, the hardcore scene consists of a lot of young, unexperienced, fashionable kids. They are die hard something one minute and out of it the next. I think organization comes up with maturity, not necessarily all the time, but generally speaking. A young kid will have his heart in the right place, but just may not have the know-how to see things through completely. I see it with shows and bands all the time. They want to do the right thing, but sometimes the attention span just isn’t there. With the amount of time it takes to learn and properly make things, kids are off on to the next hip thing. Again this isn’t speaking for everyone because there are plenty of bands and kids that are on the right track.
JB: New Jersey just had the governor give a state of the state report a few weeks ago. If you were to do a state of the scene report right now what would it sound like?
In my opinion and from what I’m able to gather from my experiences, the New Jersey scene definitely isn’t at it’s strongest right now. There are a few random venues that are trying to maintain regular shows, but nothing that’s really making a lot of noise. A solid and consistent venue is much more critical to a successful scene than people tend to think. When we had places like City Gardens, Middlesex County College, The Princeton Arts Council and a few others doing consistent shows, we had a strong scene. A strong scene cultivates bands and hordes of dedicated fans. Right now there are a few local guys trying to bring an underground music scene back to Trenton. We’ve got a few good venues, it’s just a matter of the promoters sticking it out and pushing things to happen. Things move slow when you’re virtually starting from scratch, so hopefully these promoters have the dedication to work for the light at the end of the tunnel. As a member of a New Jersey based band, I can honestly tell you that we have the dedication to keep pushing forward with this band.
JB: Maybe I’m biased, but it seems like New Jersey is no longer the major stomping grounds of hardcore any more. Do you agree?
Yes I do agree, I think you’re absolutely right. I think New Jersey still has the reputation as being one of the front running states for hardcore, but I think that reputation comes from New Jersey’s history and not so much it’s “here and now”. Don’t get me wrong, there are kids and there are bands and there definitely are people trying to make things happen here in New Jersey, but it’s just not coming together yet. I think for awhile, things got real clicky here in New Jersey. You had a small group of kids putting on shows and really just supporting their friends bands. They might have started off with a goal to bring things together, but ultimately tore a lot of apart.
JB: Just looking at my students who are into punk and hardcore, one thing has been clear- it is much more of a fashion statement these days. I went to a local show and the kids seemed more interested in who was wearing what vs. what the bands actually sounded like. I actually have kids using the term “emo” to describe things like haircuts, clothing, and attitudes. What are your thoughts?
I don’t know that it’s all that different than it’s ever been. Young kids follow trends because they are impressionable and want to be cool like everyone else. A lot of the time they think they are being different, but end up being exactly the same. I guess it gets annoying, but I don’t really get all that caught up in worrying about it. There’s something different every year, so I just try and concern myself with what directly affects me.
JB: Ok, word association time. I will write a word and you will give me the first thing that comes to mind:
Integrity: One of the best hardcore bands of the 90’s.
Krishna: I’m right in the middle of reading the Bhagavad-Gita and going to a program this upcoming Sunday, so Krishna Consciousness is something that definitely interests me.
Sausage: A disgusting array of animal meat shoved into a tube.
Circle: The song “Circles” by Dag Nasty is a great song.
Mullet: I recall a particularly good website with a collection of classic mullet shots.
Kinkajou: A cool looking nocturnal jungle animal.
JB: Are there any Triple Threat songs where people constantly misconstrue what they are about, or what you wrote it about?
If there is, it’s never really been brought to my attention. The only song off hand that I can think of that could possibly be misconstrued or just not understood clearly, would be the track “Obsession” from our first EP. I’m questioning people who seem to care more about hardcore band t shirts than any bit of message that the actual bands are trying to purvey. When I see these guys who are so wrapped up in collecting hardcore shirts and paying big money for them, yet don’t even have the bands records or care about the bands message, it just blows my mind. To me appreciation is one thing and I respect that, but the obsession is just a bit strange and leaves you questioning where peoples hearts might be.
JB: What’s next for Triple Threat? Any new recordings?
The next release will be the limited “Live at CBGB” 7″ on Livewire. Aside from that, we are currently working on writing new material for a 7″ that we’ll most likely release ourselves on Livewire. We’ve got about 6 or 7 new songs, all different styles, so we’ll narrow down the top 4 or 5 and hopefully get into the studio sometime early summer 2007. Aside from the new recordings, we’re just going to continue playing out as much as possible.
JB: Will you guys be touring this spring/summer?
There are no plans for a spring or summer tour, mainly because our drummer Jason will be getting married at the end of the summer and will need to use the majority of his vacation time for the wedding and honeymoon. We’re going to try and do as many weekend trips as possible. Hopefully team up with some different bands and hit the road together on some short weekend type trips. We’ll see what happens, but I’m sure something will come together.
JB: Thank you for your time and the interview. Again, thanks and keep writing awesome music!!!
Thank you for your support and general interest, it’s appreciated and not taken for granted.