Sunday, April 8, 2018

Band Interview: KEITH DOOM & THE WRECKING CREW by Dave Wolff


Photo by Ray Auffrey
Interview with Nathan Hines of KEITH DOOM AND THE WRECKING CREW

You have been lead vocalist of Keith Doom & The Wrecking Crew since 2014. Have you fronted the same lineup since then? How well has the band grown to work together?
We’ve had a few lineup changes since the beginning. We were originally a four piece comprised of me (vocals), Cyrus Orkish-Robertson (guitar), Kenzie Cameron (drums) and Tanner Leudy (bass). We soon added Shane Wilkie who had been playing in some local acts at the time (Sins Of The Father and Stepwise). We planned from before our first show to add Shane but needed to work on tightening up a bit and getting established. So once Shane was added, Tanner joined Cyrus on guitar and we did the five piece thing for a little while. Cyrus was a bit younger than us and once he graduated high school he moved to Halifax to continue his schooling. We played as a four piece when he was away and a five piece when he was home. We found it difficult to write new material so we had a mutual parting with Cyrus. A few years down the line we had the same with our original drummer Kenzie. A long time friend and bass player for locals The Wazzo Adam Lemoine stepped up on drums and we have been steady with this lineup since. Our band functions exceptionally well because we are on the same page as to the sound and feel of the music. We take care of different aspects as far as the industry side of things, but when it’s time to deliver the music we bring something unique to the table.

The band mixes a vintage punk sound with a modern taste. What does this entail? What is the era of punk you consider to be the vintage era?
We like to think we take the core elements of punk from the 70s and early 80s and add influences from various subgenres that exploded on to the scene over the years: crust, hardcore etc. We mostly keep the songs short and sweet, and some have a grindy/metallic undertone. We want to keep our listeners interested track to track and to us that means exploring all the sounds of punk rock.

The meaning of punk has changed many times over the years. What is the band’s definition of punk, collectively and individually?
To me vintage punk is 70's/80's punk, when the genre was being cracked open. Mostly the regions I truly consider hold a place for vintage punk would be England and the West/East coast of the US. But there is so much from all over the world, it’s impossible to narrow it down to certain sections. I can't speak for the rest of the band, but to me and I would assume them punk is about doing what you do, not doing things to please others, just doing what you want. Whether dressing a certain way, writing a certain way, or just being an individual. The music is a mutual thing among "punks", and I think the attitude will always be present in a world that has so much negativity, corruption and greed.

So the debate over whether punk started in the U.S. or England isn’t a concern for you?
As far as where it took off I could care less. That might be because I’m from Eastern Canada. Though there were punk bands in this area as far back as the 70s it wasn't some explosion that left a mark on our scene like London, California or New York.

You could say punk also started in Chicago with Death, who started around the same time as the Ramones and the Sex Pistols.
Death is an amazing act who helped evolve the sound. Same with The Stooges and MC5,. But punk really started to shape up with the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. There has been "punk" sounding music since the 50s as far as I am concerned, with Eddie Cochrane leading the way for ripping rock n roll. But it all comes down to who influenced core bands when it was established. Cream helped shape the heavy rock sound that would eventually become metal. But Sabbath, Judas Priest, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple and Rainbow laid the groundwork for metal riffs and lyrical themes. Death unfortunately don't get the recognition they deserve but they are definitely one of the earliest punk acts.

Another band was active around the same time period, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Pure Hell, who the Bad Brains cited as an early influence. Their only full length Noise Addiction was delayed for almost thirty years before it was released in 2005.
I have not heard about Pure Hell but would definitely be interested in listening. It’s always interesting hearing rare gems and hearing what mainstay artists from the 70's and 80s were listening to.

While searching Youtube I heard of older punk bands with female vocalists such as The Accident, The Maneaters, and Wilma And The Wilbers, and singers like Rosa Yemen and Kate Fagan. How important do you deem social media making these clips available?
I used to dig very deep into Youtube to find obscure music of folk, metal and punk. A few "rare" bands I found that stuck with me were Crushed Butler, DMZ, Swamp Rats, Crime, The Real Kids, The Punks, Debris etc. They had wonderful full lengths while others only had a song or two. My main knowledge of "obscure" music stems to proto-metal in the 60's and 70's. I was heavily engaged in Blogspot and Wordpress pages around 2008-2010 to dig up any proto-metal and proto-punk I could get my hands on. Where my taste was limited I loved the early beginnings. Around fifteen and sixteen I started dipping into hardcore and thrash metal and the rest is history. There aren’t many genres I won't dive into if it interests me. Social media is extremely important. Unless you lived where they were from at the time you would have had no idea they existed. Now they are just a few clicks away and I think that is amazing for underground music.

Where else can people find rare bands from the 60s to the present day?
Not too many places. A lot of these records are hard to come by. I work at a record store and rarely catch something rare. Occasionally I will crate dig and buy lesser known rock bands, but as far as anything super innovative not too often.

How many local mom and pop stores are in your area? Name some rarities you managed to find while crate digging?
Aside from flea markets, garage sales or thrift shops we only have one dedicated record store, Atomic Records And Collectibles. The store is just about to turn three in June and I'm happy we can sustain it. The owner Tom is good to our local scene allowing us to hold all-age shows of all genres and even supporting charity show events. Random gems I found there are Rammer: Rammer EP, Bobby Whitlock’s self-titled album and Rick Derringer’s live album from 1977.

I’ve been hearing that the world of extreme metal has become oversaturated due to social media and there are more bands than people can keep up with. Do you see this happening? Is there still room for originality?
People’s definitions of extreme metal vary so some may find bands untrue to the nature of extreme music. Those sites have a mass abundance of extreme music, and it’s a genre that can be produced fairly simply so a lot of bands and projects post demos and EPs constantly. I think the genre still has room for originality; it’s up to the artists to bring it in.

Do you feel punk is timelier than ever? If so, is this reflected in the band’s lyrics?
It might not be more timely than the 80s, but it definitely is more relevant than ten years ago, with arguably some of the most hated political happenings in a long time. Lyrically we try to escape from writing political or opinionated songs in general, but we certainly have songs that will be recorded for our next release, which will hopefully be started in the late spring or early summer. We tend to write about random and sometimes fictional content. Our song Goth Kids deals with how the general public calls any abrasive music goth, emo or screamo even if it’s not any of those genres. Nascar Racing is about smoking cigs and somebody owing you twenty dollars. We have been known to write a dis-track or two.

Punk has expanded into many different subgenres including straight edge, vegan, electro punk, pop punk, anarcho-punk and so on. Is this a benefit or a detriment?
Many people hate subgenres because they think it hurts a genre. I love being able to use a subgenre to explain a sound or theme. I think it is good because it makes it easier for listeners to weed out bands or sounds they dislike. I don't like much power metal, but if I thought all metal was like power metal I would disregard the genre entirely. But where I know there are many different sub-genres to check out I feel more inclined to do so.

Why is any form of abrasive music labeled by the public? Does your song Goth Kids also deal with people who take it at face value without making distinctions?
Punk, metal or any "extreme" music will always be looked down on by mainstream media. People who follow that bullshit don't want to think for themselves, so listening to mega produced radio pop and watching Fox News is their cup of tea. I say listening to death metal and reading zines are my cup of tea. So many people think all these genres are senseless screaming with no talent. I don't care if somebody doesn't like the music, but don't try and lump it into one big ball. Anybody who actually cares should understand every genre has its place whether they like it or not.

It’s not difficult to find websites and videos explaining how diverse extreme music is. I’ve seen videos about the different vocal styles in death metal and the physical discipline needed for them. And sites listing the vast number of subgenres of death, black and doom metal etc.
I think talented artists exploring different genres is a great opportunity for sub-genres to expand. Some bands and artists come in and lay groundwork for a certain sound. It might fall flat giving the genre no credibility but when the right bands step up it causes a flux of other artists exploring the sounds and styles. To me that’s important for extreme music.

Do you consider overt political statements in punk still relevant in today’s political climate? For example there has been a lot of division among Americans following the last presidential election. Are any newer bands reflecting this?
I think it will always be relevant. Today’s political climate is heated. As far as bands utilizing this in their lyrics I’m not too sure, but I know bands like Jesus Piece touch on the struggles of oppression and such. I’m sure lots of bands use this as a platform but I haven't found them yet.

Who are Jesus Pierce and how do they reflect on society in their lyrics?
Jesus Piece are a newer hardcore band with a heavy sound. They write lyrics regarding the current political state and how people of color are treated poorly. The front man, being a person of color, is driven by that. I very much support their messages. Try out the song Oppressor for example.

Back to your reference of dis songs, who in particular has been the subject of said pieces?
Our dis tracks range in variety. "Asshats" is about people who wear Bass-Pro Shop hats but don't fish (of course we don't really care what you wear, haha). "Dead-Byrds" is about the local Cape Breton acts Frigged (formerly Dead Skanks) and our current drummer's old band The Wazzo. Both bands are our close friends, and as I said band mates now, so most of the time we are just picking to pick. We find these songs resonate with the crowd because everybody around here sort of gets the joke.

Is punk more about the image or the message?
It’s more about your viewpoint to me. It’s to fit the image and uphold something gimmicky for fans I suppose, such as the slightly comedic aspect of our band. But overall it boils down to how you are as a person, your views or the message you are spreading.

How much material does the band have out to date? Discuss your most recent release and how much promotion has gone into it since it was made available?
We have two EPs, "Potholes" and "Malt Water Party" and one full length "Total Expendable". We released the album last June with a big local show featuring the local bands Frigged! and The Shithawks. Since then we have had steady album sales at events. We try and give as many underground stations and even record stores promotional copies. The album clocks in at about eleven minutes, so we play the entire thing during our sets, haha. We are writing our second full length, aiming for at least fifteen minutes this time, haha. "Total Expendable" has a different sound overall than the two other releases. We sort of ditched the rock n roll vibe we had and became much more aggressive sounding. The next release will expand on that.

Are the band personal friends with Frigged! and The Shithawks? How often have you performed with them?
We are close friends with them. Easily some of my best friends from before our band began. We have played countless shows with them, being that this is a small scene.

How do you account for your releases for being brief in length? Has dropping that rock vibe made major changes to your sound?
We understand some people wouldn't understand why our album was so short, but we recorded everything we wanted and just didn't add any filler crap. Some of my favorite punk albums of all time are very short. Dropping the rock vibe significantly changed our sound. First we sounded like Misfits and The Stooges; now we sound crusty and metallic. But we make sure to keep a touch of groove to draw people who otherwise may avoid heavy music.

What songs on your current releases have the most well written lyrics to date?
I suppose that’s up to the listener. Some songs have funny/dumb lyrics but the story behind them is relatable. Crosseyed deals with media propaganda and blurring the lines on what’s true and false, and has more of a serious undertone.

How soon do you expect the next full length to come out, and how aggressively do you plan to promote it?
We hopefully plan to start late summer on production. We wll be promoting the hell out of it through various formats and advertisements. 

-Dave Wolff

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