Interview: Car 87 Brings The Raw Intensity Back To Hardcore

Interview with guitarist Mike “Wino,” bassist Jay T, and vocalist Bryce | By Hutch

What’s Car 87 about?

Mike: It’s about bringing the simple, raw intensity back to hardcore. It’s about getting rid of all the subgenres and scenester bullshit and playing real hardcore, not just metal without solos. It’s about playing right to the edge of everything falling apart, and enjoying it if it does.

Jay: It’s about embracing the DIY ethic and putting as much energy as possible into our writing, recording, and performance.

Where did you get the name?

Jay: Car 87 is the Vancouver Police Department’s designation for their mental health response unit. Car 87 is primarily utilized in the Downtown Eastside (DTES), one of the poorest and [most] drug-addicted neighborhoods in Canada. To us, it was a powerful name because it represented everything that was wrong with policing; rather than helping those most in need, it further criminalizes drug addiction and mental health issues.

How long have you been a band?

Jay: About three years now, and it feels like we’re just getting started! Every year has brought more new and exciting music and band accomplishments. It really feels like momentum is building for us.

You released Trapped at the end of 2012, a live record in January this year, and a new split. What’s next?

Jay: Our new split 7” with the Kroovy Rookers is dropping in April and we’re currently finishing up recording our next 7” which should be out later this year. We also recorded a song for a Big Boys tribute record Influence/A Tribute to Big Boys, which is being released through Stiff Hombre Records, out of Victoria, Canada. The record has bands from Canada and the U.S. and should be out before summer. Aside from that, we will be taking a bit of a break from the road/stage after Texas, playing a few western Canadian shows, and focusing on writing new material.

What kind of city is Vancouver for hardcore punk?

Jay: Most of the punk coming out of Vancouver right now is really aggressive and abrasive. Vancouver is a city that has a facade of beauty, glamour, money, and comfort, but also has a dark and dirty side of homelessness, poverty, drug use, and constant struggle, which provides a lot of inspiration for the music we play. Vancouver is also a city that is quite oppressive towards the arts, notably independent music.

What shows have you guys played? What’s coming up soon?

Jay: We recently toured down to Washington and Oregon and have been busy playing dates in Western Canada for the last couple years. By the time this is in print, we will have dropped down to Texas for seven shows (six cities) in five days all around the state. Early summer is going to be more about finishing our record, playing a couple local shows, and writing, with plans to look into the Bay Area in the fall.

Any plans to put out a new full-length?

Jay: It would be nice, but being a DIY band made up of working dudes with families limits funds. We’re currently looking to build new relationships for our future releases. We have a band rule that we only release vinyl, which can be a bit more expensive up front. We are confident that the right relationship will happen, which could provide us the opportunity to look at doing bigger/different things with our recordings. 

What are you addressing lyrically on songs like “Suicide” and “Shoot Up and Die”?

Bryce: I’m mostly addressing some sort of personal struggle within myself, as I’m a recovering drug addict. In “Trapped,” the line “open up these veins and watch me die” is about being trapped within myself, and the only way out being suicide. The song “Suicide” is about a few different suicide attempts, and “Shoot Up and Die”is about shooting up and dying in addiction; the chorus is the solution.

Is there any hope for security and balance in life, or is it just a continual struggle?

Mike: There are always struggles in life. If there aren’t, then you’re not trying hard enough, or not paying attention. It’s always a process of trying to minimize or eliminate struggles from your life, but some never go away. The band helps provide balance through release for all of us and we don’t see that changing any time soon.

Bryce: I’m just living and enjoying life. I’m not really as suicidal as I used to be. Though, I guess there is less of a struggle [for me] than there was before, or maybe a struggle, but in a different way.

You have embraced Bandcamp. How do you feel about the climate of music today?

Jay: There are two sides to it. On the one hand, it’s great that everyone has open and somewhat equal access to all kinds of music from all different backgrounds and means, but at the same time, having so much available to us sometimes trivializes music and can make it another expendable commodity. We don’t believe in selling expression as music, which is why it’s always free to download all our songs, but we do make vinyl for people like us, who appreciate the feel and format of it.


Jay: It’s mostly about ‘80s hardcore for Car 87 as a collective, though we all bring our own influences to the table. Bands such as Jerry’s Kids, Poison Idea, and Negative Approach have been huge influences, but we are evolving as a band and have developed our own sound over the last couple years. [That sound] continues to be rooted in the early hardcore sound, energy, and structure. It’s not so much a nostalgia thing with our early ‘80s hardcore influence as it is a stripping away of all the bullshit that has been piled on top of that original sound over the years. Basically anything that is honest, raw, simple, and aggressive.

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