If you are in the ska-punk scene and haven’t been listening to everything The Interrupters put out, you’ve been messing up pretty bad. This band has made more progress in the scene in the last two years than most bands hope to make in their career.
One of the deciding factors for getting my ass to Warped Tour this year was deciding if it was worth seeing the bands on the bill. Yeah, I love Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish, but I’ve also seen both bands 20+ times each (I know… I have a problem). Sum 41 was obviously huge, but the real band that made up my mind was The Interrupters. They didn’t disappoint!
Kelsey and I made our way to the stage about 20 minutes before their set and got to see them setting up and hanging out with each other. Right before the music started we were able to see the band (as well as a few extras) huddle in a circle. It really gave off the feeling of something closer than just business – friendship and family. You can easily tell by their stage banter and performance that these guys (and a gal) are more than just your everyday band. That also may be the fact that 3 of the members are actually brothers!
After the set, I got to sit down with their guitarist, Kevin, for one of the cooler moments of my Fake Famous career. You could tell as soon as he walked in the room that he was just as excited to sit down as we were, so we jumped right into a conversation and let him speak his mind!
K: Kevin Bivona
J: Josh (SIMGE)
KM: Kelsey (SIMGE)
J: We’ve been a fan of you guys since we heard you two years back. Huge fans – incredible band. When we saw you would be on Warped it made up our minds that we had to go
K: Oh really? That’s awesome! Were you able to catch the set today?
J: Oh yeah we caught the whole thing from the front! Tons of pictures, a few already up on Instagram. You guys never stop moving!
J: It feels like you guys came outta nowhere. What’d you guys do before this?
K: It seems that way, but we’ve all been working hard in music for years. I think the reason it seems it came out of nowhere is because we had a pretty good built in infrastructure already just from experience of playing in different bands and playing with different people. Like I joined the transplants in 2005 so I’ve known Tim for a while so when we started the band, we’d been recording a bunch of stuff and he hopped on as a producer and put it on his label Hellcat.
J: Yeah it was pretty awesome to hear him on the record!
K: Oh totally! We are super lucky to be involved with that. That relationship did start before this band. My relationship with Aimee – we were writing songs and she’d been touring as a solo artist for 10 years. My brothers have had a ton of different gigs…so I can see how it seems we sorta came outta nowhere but we all kinda decided we just wanted to go for it with this band. Being musicians –it’s funny because sometimes there’s a thing you’re passionate about and things you need to do to survive, so we decided to put all our eggs in this basket and it’s been working out for us pretty good!
J: I was like 99% convinced there was some dark magic involved with like rubbing Tim’s head or something!
J: What has it been like working with Tim Armstrong? He’s practically a legend!
K: Really cool! We’ve worked with him before, but as this band – the four of us getting together and recording – he kinda taught us a lot about not over thinking stuff. We don’t spend a lot of hours in the studio, we just try to get as much done as we can and re-assess it later. When you look back and you’re in the moment, it just ends up working out a way that we like! It doesn’t work for everyone, but it worked for us. On the second record, we’d done a lot of writing on the road and a lot of touring and we were kinda ready – and he was ready – so we hopped in the studio for a week and we had like half the stuff written. The other half we kinda just came up with in the studio just bouncing ideas around. Then we went back in the studio for another day to knock out a few other ideas we had. Over the course of the next few weeks we just went back and did all the vocals and stuff. It’s great working with him – he’s a band guy so he gets it. He’s not just showing up, he’s in there with his guitar like ‘Hey man try this!’ and he’s super open minded and he makes us more open minded.
J: You can definitely hear some influence from his sounds on the albums. I mean… it’s Tim. He’s got that signature sound behind him.
K: I mean we all grew up loving his bands and loving a lot of the same bands he loves, so we all have a lot of common threads in our musicality.
J: So what bands would you say influence you the most?
K: For this band, I’d say we’re most influenced by the whole two-tone ska thing from England in the late 70s like Madness, The Specials, The Selecter… ya know? We also like street punk and like to get a little political but not too political like The Clash or Cock Sparrer. I love a lot of that English punk rock like Buzzcocks.
J: Aimee’s got that perfect voice for that too.
K: Yeah I mean that was another thing we kinda stumbled upon recording our first album. Like when we’d be writing stuff we’d record a song and she’d be like ‘Well, that’s not really a good key for me to sing in but she’d try it and all of a sudden she’s singing really low and it’s like ‘Actually, that’s awesome! That’s a cool sound – let’s go with that!’ So that’s something we stumbled upon while writing the first record.
J: With your brothers in the band, how often do you fuck with each other?
K: Ehh every now and then ya know. If the spirits are good we can do it. Ya know, we all have our own little roles in the band and we all kinda come together before a show
J: Yeah I saw you guys in a circle with Billy
K: Yeah Billy’s awesome! But yeah we fuck with each other sometimes. Nothing too crazy. We actually don’t fuck with each other too much.
Km: You probably got most of it out of your system as kids!
K: Yeah the good thing about being in a band with your brothers is that if you’re in a band with anyone, you’re gonna fight. If you’ve got brothers, you’re gonna fight. You might as well get it all out in one fight, hug it out and tell each other you love each other!
J: The new album was obviously great! What comes next after Warped?
K: We’re going to Europe pretty much right away! Going for 3-4 weeks and we’re pretty excited about that. We just started going over there last year and the response we got was surprisingly awesome for the level we’re at as a band. I mean, we don’t live in the clouds about like where we’re at. We kinda know where..ya know… we’re pretty realistic about it. We all have that thought anytime we play a show of ‘Is anyone gonna show up?’ We’re going to a brand new country on a brand new continent and setting up your shit and being like ‘Is anyone gonna come?’ and then they do come and they do dance and they sing!
J: On Warped, what bands have you been looking forward to seeing literally every day?
K: I think every day I watch Masked Intruder and Teenage Bottlerocket. In fact I was on the way here and was gonna show up early, but had to watch Teenage Bottlerocket for a song before coming in! They were bands we were big fans of before this. We’ve never met Masked Intruder but now we’re buddies! Discovering a bunch of other cool bands we weren’t aware of on this tour as well. Of all different genres! Obviously we knew Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish before this since we’ve toured with them, but there’s some new up and coming bands like The Heirs from LA were really good. Mother Feather is another band that’s really good. There’s so many it’s like… we’re finally getting to the point that we’ve finally seen all the bands on our stage, but now we’ve gotta venture out to the other stages!
J: I was in a van with 10 people for 12 days and by the end of it we all practically hated each other – I don’t know how you do it!
K: Yeah we’re sharing with another great band called Sykes from England. We’re sharing a bus with them and they’re like the sweetest, nicest people ever. Their band’s amazing, huge sounding tracks, really hooky and just really good people. That’s another good thing about doing this tour – we would have never met them and now we live in close quarters with each other and we’ll always have that! When this tour’s over I can run into these guys 10 years from now and can always be like ‘Hey, remember that?!’ You definitely should check them out.
J: What band, living or dead, would you tour with if you had the chance?
K: Well living, The Descendents! I mean, man, they’re putting out another record, getting ready to go on the road. Take us out on tour!
J: I’ll make sure to tag them on the post!
K: Definitely! So many obviously great bands. The Clash would obviously be a great one to play with. The Specials are still playing too. Cock Sparrer – pffff- if we could get on a bill with Cock Sparrer I’ll die happy. We played a festival on a separate day as them but we still came to their day!
J: Final question, possibly the most serious question of all: You guys dress up every set in button downs and dress pants – how bad is your dry cleaning bill at this point? Do you just wear the same thing daily and hope it doesn’t smell?
K: We got a couple multiples! There’s a downy wrinkle spray…
J: Chris from Less Than Jake literally said the same thing!
K: Oh my god that shit’s amazing! When I discovered it, touring became so much easier.
J: Their stock probably just went up a few points…
K: Haha yeah we each have a couple versions of our clothes. On Warped, you can’t hit up a dry cleaner! We’re not in any town long enough to do that. We just kinda track how much we wear it and hope we don’t get anyone offended by what we smell like. We take it up after the set and spray it and hope for the best! It’s definitely something that, when we started the band, we were like ‘Man, this is great, totally fun’ but there were some things we didn’t think about. We did our first tour, two months, with one outfit each. We did Europe with two outfits and our shows were so hot and sweaty that the next morning our suits would still be soaking wet. It was pretty rough! It’s interesting, but ya know we like to show up like we’re showing up to work. Business casual! No jacket – though sometimes we bring out the jacket. It’s rough, but don’t you just feel good in a suit?
J: Alright man, that’s all I’ve got for you, so go enjoy Teenage Bottlerocket!
K: Good to meet you guys!