Interview with Luke Pabich of Good Riddance, Coercion | By Ricky Frankel
Coercion is a “super group” of sorts. The band is comprised of members of Good Riddance, Death by Stereo, The Lonely Kings, Fury 66 and Ghost Parade. Even though Coercion gave us a full album titled Exit Wounds through Bird Attack Records last year, that was not everything they had in their musical arsenal. The band very recently put out a video for their newly released song called “Choices.” Features editor Ricky Frankel caught up with Luke Pabich, the guy behind the killer guitar work in Coercion’s and Good Riddance’s tunes, to talk about the video, his bands’ future endeavors, his taste in guitars and a bit more. Watch the video and read the interview below.
What are the differences between in writing a song for Coercion and a song for Good Riddance?
Coercion is more of a collaborative effort involving all the band members, whereas Good Riddance songs are primarily written by our singer Russ and myself. With Coercion, songs start as a riff, bass line and/or vocal melody and different ideas emerge based on this starting point. Classic organic band songwriting. When the song is complete we all feel like we’ve left our imprint on the song.
What was the inspiration behind the lyrics of “Choices”?
I asked our singer Jake to chime in on this question. “Its actually about not making choices quickly or decisively. Stalling out direct action in fear of how the results might affect one’s future. It’s one thing to talk about choices we are going to make, however its a completely different process to make a choice and implement the necessary action. For me, I made a decision to be sober, after many broad stroke statements and moments and internally debating. Ultimately it affected my life in so many positive ways, but came down to that critical mass moment where my choice changed my life.”
Tell me about the video. Where exactly was it shot? Why did the band to shoot it in the studio?
Since our band doesn’t play many shows at this point we thought it was necessary to have a video that shows the personality of the band. Back in April we were on a short road trip playing a couple of shows as well as spending a day in the studio (Buzzbomb Sound Labs in Orange, CA) recording some new material. Our drummer Anthony has done some video production work in the past so he brought a camera with him on the trip to capture the experience and then edited the footage together into the video for “Choices”. I think video footage from the recording studio is an interesting perspective…it reveals some of the creative process that a band goes through. As a whole the video speaks to anyone who has been in a band or who is curious about what it’s like to be in a band…pack your gear, drive, eat food, laugh, get frustrated, sleep, record music and play shows.
Why did you decide to leave this track off of Exit Wounds?
This song wasn’t written at the time we released Exit Wounds. There is a very long back story to Coercion. Basically we started this band over 20 years ago. It was short lived from 1996 to 1997. Things fell apart because the drummer, who at the time was Sean from Good Riddance, and I were touring all the time with Good Riddance…we just weren’t able to hold Coercion together and we went our separate ways. For almost twenty years we’ve lived with some regret for not seeing the band through. About a year and half ago we thought it would be fun to get together and record some of the songs we had written 20 years ago…4 of these songs are what were subsequently released as “Exit Wounds” on Bird Attack Records in July 2016.
“Choices” in particular has some great lead guitar and riffs in it. Why do think that punk rock typically doesn’t have a lot of technical guitar playing in it that often? How do you in particular go about writing those parts?
Well we consider Coercion to be a heavy rock band with punk undertones…so it is stylistically different than what most people would call punk I suppose. Our newly added second guitar player, Jim Miner, formerly from the band Death by Stereo, has really brought a lot of lead guitar flare to the band…so I give him all the credit for the excellent lead guitar work. I am good at hammering out power chords and octave leads…but that’s about it. I think the two of us together is an exciting stylistic blend and the new songs we are creating are even heavier and more dynamic. To answer your question about a lack of technical guitar playing in punk rock I guess that probably goes back to the origins of punk. Bands like the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, etc. wrote songs that were more of an in your face, to the point statement and were less self indulgent…though what was lacking in technical guitar playing was made up for with style and tact. With Coercion we tend to adhere to that philosophy while still sprinkling in a bit more musicality.
In the video you can be seen playing a Les Paul-shaped LTD Deluxe. How do you choose your guitars?
Les Paul’s tend to be my guitar of choice but a couple years back I picked up a couple ESP LTD’s with stock Evertune bridges after I heard some fellow musicians praising the Evertune bridge. I cannot say enough good things about this guitar and the Evertune bridge. The guitar has a thick tone similar to the Les Paul and the stock Evertune bridge has been a game changer for me. I used to have to tune on stage after every three songs…with the Evertune bridge I don’t have to tune my guitar at all during the set and it also keeps me in good pitch even when I’m hammering on the strings which gives me a little more freedom to abuse my guitar on stage.
What are the differences between working with Bird Attack Records and Fat Wreck Chords?
Both labels are run by musically passionate and savvy people. Fat Wreck Chords is a more established label with a well developed support structure (PR, distro, marketing, booking connections, etc.) whereas Bird Attack is still an up and coming label with limited resources. What I like about Bird Attack is that for a small label they have a lot of marketing savvy and they have really done a good job of expanding their catalogue in the last year. It is a bit like comparing apples and oranges because Fat was really able to make it’s mark in the mid 1990’s when underground music took off and when people actually bought records. Bird Attack started a few years back and it’s a lot more difficult for labels to make a buck in this day and age. I give them a lot of credit for being resourceful and for making good decisions as they grow.
Since I have you here, what is going on with Good Riddance? I saw you guys when you played with Western Addiction earlier this year at The Troubadour and it was awesome!
Good Riddance is headed to Europe with Face to Face in August, will be playing the It’s Not Dead Fest 2 at the end of August and will be playing a few shows in Mexico and Costa Rica at the end of September…which we are very excited to do because we’ve never been there. Gears are also in motion for a new record…we hope to be able to focus on songwriting towards the end of this year.
What are Coercion’s future plans?
We are still working towards writing a full albums worth of music. We have 7 new songs (“Choices” being one of them) and hope to write at least 7 more. At this point we aren’t really sure who will be putting it out. We are also interested in playing shows as much as possible. Right now we are focusing on playing West Coast shows but we are open to anything should the opportunity present itself. We are more or less DIY, doing our own booking and creating our own press, so we are really appreciative of anyone who throws us a bone.
Anything else that you would like to add?
Just want to thank New Noise for giving me the opportunity to do this interview and we hope people check out Coercion.