What better way to have the band’s get acquainted than to have them interview each other. Michael Richards of Violent Soho interviews Chris Sutter of Meat Wave below.
I just want to clear the air first guys: this is one of the most awkward ways to meet a band that you are about to get all up and intimate with on tour. Over here in Australia, we Violent Soho boys are absolutely beaming to spend three weeks in August and September getting sweaty with you fellas. For now though, “G’day!” My name is Michael. You guys are fucking sick and I love listening to you on my Spotify as much as possible. I have never really interviewed a band before so I’m so very empathetic towards how punishing this might be for you. I myself have been asked the mundane questions, “What does your band name mean?” (Who fucken cares right?) “What are your musical influences” (Ahhhhh Rock and fucken Roll mate!) Am I right?
Michael, very nice to digitally meet you, though yeah this is a little strange. Damn, thank so much for the kinds words, we are super excited to go out with y’all in August. And we always get those essential interview questions. Especially about our fucking name. So thank you for sparing us. I will return the favor.
For me, thinking of Meat Wave as a Chicago band, I’m instantly reminiscent of Touch and Go Records, whom I suppose have a very solid legacy to punk rock bands all throughout Chicago. Particularly, a lot of your earlier work reminds me of Jesus Lizard or Big Black, especially with that diabolical bass riffage (so badass!). The more I listen to you guys though I’m torn between feeling both a sunny Cali punk flavour and a dark New York indie slacker feel. It’s like one has been shoved down the throat of the other in the best way possible. It’s occurred to me more over the years though that bands from Chicago can have that perfect joyful mix of all great things Americana punk. Is it because people from Chicago have learned to balance the bad with the good in a such a way that other big coastal cities haven’t?
That might be true. Touch and Go is awesome. I think that’s definitely informed our sound and what we do. Chicago has a fucking hard edge. In every way. It’s huge and pretty segregated and obviously there’s a lot of crime here. Especially in the summer, Jesus Christ. That must inform what we do; I’m pretty sure. I think you can kind of generalize it in that a lot of people and the music that’s made on the west coast is a little more lofty, and music made on the east coast is more extreme and hard. Again, total generalization and there are a million exceptions. But we’re literally, and maybe figuratively, in the middle of that. There’s not really any big music industry community here either, so at least from what we see, it’s a lot of people doing it just to do it and because they love playing music. So I think bands’ ambitions here are pretty firmly rooted in the music they make. Maybe I’m talking out of my ass. There’s a lot going on here.
People from Chicago can be so nice. Is it the weed? The baseball? The food? The culture? The proletariat? Honestly, I just feel like there is a really relaxed non-seriousness about people from Chicago that makes me very comfortable. It’s much like how people are from my own awesome Aussie city, Brisbane. What’s with that?
[Laughs] That’s good to hear. People really like to party here. I think Midwesterners have a pretty high tolerance for alcohol. And yeah, definitely a lot of weed around. Maybe the incredibly harsh weather gives us some humility. A lot of people have a good sense of humor. It also makes people assholes. Some people really have a bad time here. I was talking to someone who visits on tour every now and then, and he was like, “every time I come here I get my van broken into, or a million parking tickets. One time we got mugged.” So it’s like damn, yeah, I could understand why you don’t like coming here.
One of my all time heroes as a musician, songwriter and band-leader-guy is Rick Froberg. Your music makes me experience a lot of the same feels that I get from his music and the many bands he has played for. How fucken sick are Hot Snakes, yes?
Aw man, the sickest. In my head we basically started as Hot Snakes worship. That band kind of changed things for me. The first song I’d ever heard by them was “I Hate The Kids,” and it was SO fucking abrasive and powerful and just the epitome of badassery. Just rocked my world. One of the greatest bands to ever do it. I never thought I’d be able to see them, but they reunited a couple years ago and played a Riot Fest aftershow at Empty Bottle (which is the best venue in Chicago, you guys should totally check it out if you haven’t) and it exceeded all my expectations. They are the most badass fucking dudes.
You guys had two releases last year and for me I thought of them both as being albums. Was that the intent or is Brother an “EP” and Delusion Moon an “LP”?
Brother is an EP. We were waiting for Delusion Moon to come out and were going on tour so we wanted to release some new music before that record came out. So the EP is two songs from our first s/t record, two songs from Delusion Moon, a Wipers cover and two unreleased songs. It’s a Frankenstein of a release so that’s really interesting that you think of it like an album. Delusion Moon was written a lot more deliberately.
Obviously Brother is much shorter, but for me it has a distinctly separate feel as a release. It’s more harsh and aggressive but mega party vibe as well. I love both last year’s releases of course. Delusion Moon is like this huge punk rock drama full of narrative, drifting off at times into being suckered in to the mundane fantasy of day to day life, it’s constantly at flux with being both direct and indirect in it’s lyrical frustration. It’s so full of tension that keeps up the whole way through. Brother is like this party-angst anthem that makes me go full fist pump. Do you craft albums to give a whole overall feel or are you just getting your stuff out there into the universe as you go and we all just get to enjoy the ride?
Yeah, it seems like our records always have a certain respective feel about them. I think it’s a fun exercise and it also just happens pretty naturally. The best albums to me are the ones that feel like you’re entering this world where all these songs live and breathe and are interrelated in one way or another. Our first record, it’s self-titled, was basically just the first songs we had written and was kind of thrown together. But I think it kind of magically worked as an album. We were originally planning on just releasing those songs on 7 inches and as singles. Delusion Moon was more deliberate and was reactive to people in my life or in the world and making sense of what they’re doing in relation to what i’m doing. I was just out of college, straight fucked, yo. Everything I’ve ever worked on in terms of music is really rooted in a very specific time in my life. That always informs it and shapes it. We just made a new record and it’s a lot more introverted and personal and vulnerable. Definitely has a vibe to it. Blah blah blahhhhh
The reason for my last question is that two decent length releases within the space of a year to me is a massive achievement. Seriously both albums rule! Do you consider yourselves a hard working band?
Thank you dude. Last year we worked pretty hard. We’re definitely not the hardest working band in the world. It was more of the fact that we had been working on stuff for a few years and a lot of it was released last year. But we toured more than we ever had and we were really psyched that we had a record out. This year we spent a lot of time working on new music. That was definitely the hardest we’ve ever worked and the most time we’ve ever spent working on something. So we’re really excited for people to hear that and get out and tour a bunch.
I love the song “Delusion Moon.” It’s amazing! The song gives me that grand inflated feeling of something both at once tragic and beautiful. I feel like what we witness sometimes when we see the modern world in all its glory is like this amazing vision of the end of everything. Is the delusion moon supposed to be like the grand final nightmare of the world being ended in front of our eyes? I might be totally off, but that’s how I read the song. Thanks for writing it.
Damn, that’s an awesome interpretation of it. It’s so cool you could take that from that song. I definitely want people to interpret it for themselves, but the delusion moon to me is this kind of guise or haze that we are all under and enamored by. The kind of mass glazing over of humanity. I think everyone’s a little crazy. Some people choose (or don’t) to show it and be more free about it, but others kind of mask it. That really interests me. It’s about the delusion of all.
You guys are mad tight. Have you played in any other bands?
Yeah we’ve all been playing in bands for a while. Ryan, who plays drums, and I met in the band I started in high school called Truman & His Trophy. Which is a pretty wacky and outrageous rock ‘n roll, punk kinda thing. When I met Joe he was playing in an awesome band called Wide Angles. Ryan also plays in a 8 or 9-piece Americana punk band called Elephant Gun. We all like to play with other people and do a bunch of stuff.
When we go on tour later this month and in September, over three glorious weeks of non-stop laughs and hi-fives, who will be the first to crack? It’s good to know now so I can take it easy on them. Also, this is my last question so cheers for bothering to answer my questions. Especially the first one; you’re probably thinking, “what the fuck man?” No worries!
[Laughs] I think the three of us kind of balance each other out. Ryan is always down to party, I’m kind of in the middle. Joe is the more responsible one out of all of us, but when he parties he gets down. We’re all super easy-going, I think. Bring it on motherfuckers!