In 2017, Western Addiction shook the earth with their newest release, Tremulous. The gritty punk aesthetic shined through the 10 songs, having over a decade’s worth of experience in writing flawless bangers. Raspy, strained vocals cut through frantic chords and a quick pace set by the rhythm section. The emotive aggression bleeds through the sound, really captivating listeners with the message.
The band is playing a few shows with the legendary Good Riddance. The band was a driving source of the underground punk scene from 1986 to 2007, reuniting in 2012. A new record was recorded and released in 2015, Peace In Our Time. To celebrate and honor the shows (see the end of the article for dates and places), Jason Hall of Western Addiction sat down with Russ Rankin of Good Riddance in an intimate interview. Hall also created a Spotify playlist of his favorite Good Riddance songs, which can be heard below as you read along!
1. What is the best word to describe you?
2. What is your most treasured possession?
I don’t have or collect a lot of “things” per se. I have learned not to be sentimental about anything though the years, as just about everything which once seemed cool or important will be taken away at some point.
3. You are significantly underrated as a songwriter. Similar to Swingin’ Utters, Good Riddance has at least 25 – 30 truly great songs and that is a considerable amount for any band. I don’t mean “cool punk songs.” I mean well-constructed songs with great vocal melodies. Please tell us how you make a song and be very specific. Get granular.
I believe “good,” or “great” songs are relative descriptors. Underrated is a term I suppose I have made peace with, though it’s still hard to tell if it’s a compliment or an appeasement. On any imagined totem pole of FAT songwriters, I am somewhere near the bottom. My process usually involves plunking away on a guitar at home whilst watching a hockey game or something. I’ll stumble onto a riff or two which I think make sense running into each other. Then I keep playing them until, as Shane MacGowan says, “a melody presents itself.” When that happens, I keep refining and tweaking, either the chords on the guitar, or the vocal melody, or both, until I have a solid verse/chorus structure. Then, I start writing some lyrics down and experimenting with them during the music, making sure the rhythm and meter work. A variant of this is when I randomly have a line or two of possible lyric pop into my head, and I immediately write it down to explore later.
A specific melody pops into my head, in which case I use the voice memos app on my phone to record it, and then explore it later when I am near my guitar.
We have also always had numerous songs in which the music is written by Luke, and then I come up with lyrics to go over it. Usually like 3-5 songs on each album are crafted this way.
4. What is the #1 thing Chuck has done that you can’t “un-see?”
I’d rather not say. He is generally a very animated and entertaining dude, and it’s pretty non-stop.
5. Good Riddance is known for love songs. Who writes the best love songs and why?
We are? I thought we were known as a political band. As for the question, did you mean who in our band writes love songs, or whose, in the general music universe, love songs do I like the best?
It’s hard to beat Bill Stevenson in the love song department. Rhett Miller is also one of my favorites.
6. What is the most “rock n’ roll” moment you’ve ever had? Did you like the feeling or were you embarrassed?
I don’t know if I’ve had any of those. Showing up at Pearson Int’l Airport in Toronto to a woman holding a sign with our bands name on it seemed a little odd. Being rockignized at events which have nothing to do with punk rock is also a little strange.
7. Western Addiction is always speculating on the normal aspects of life for people in bands, like where Danzig eats breakfast or if the guys in Agnostic Front like acai bowls. Tell us something about your normal life. What do you do when you are by yourself?
This question would be better answered by others in the band who are happy and successful in their personal lives. I randomly cry a lot on my couch – not very exciting.
8. You are known for being a serious person, what makes you laugh?
Nothing these days.
9. What or who is “Washed Away” about? Why on Earth don’t you play it live?
It’s about what we (humanity) are doing to our planet. The ways in which our shortsightedness and selfishness outweigh our desire for our children to have breathable air when they grow up. I don’t know why we don’t play it live, other than it must be deemed not up to par by the other guys.
10. Despite the state of the world, tell us something you feel hopeful about.
New Jersey Devils. Made the playoffs this year, ahead of schedule with the rebuild and the youth in the lineup. Definitely appear to be on the right track.
05/11/18 – Sacramento, CA Holy Diverw/ Swingin Utters, Western Addiction BUY
05/12/18 Santa Cruz, CA Catalyst Atriumw/ Swingin Utters, Western Addiction BUY
05/26/18 Las Vegas, NV The Bunkhouse Fat Wreck Chords Night @ Punk Rock Bowling!
Live Photo by Alan Snodgrass