Let’s just get the basics out of the way. When/why the band started…how you knew each other, etc. Was there any concrete reason to start a band that fell out of the very regimented sound/idea of Hardcore?
The very beginning was just talk with my friend Aaron Chrietzberg. We met in North Carolina from going to shows and being into the same type of shit. He was playing guitar in The First Step at the time and was writing some different stuff on the side and we had always talked about doing something that was a little beyond our usual. We used harDCore as a starting point, I think he was real into Subject to Change at the time and I was probably thinking Verbal Assault. We got a few riffs together and improvised the rest in NYC at some rehearsal space in Queens with Steve and Fred from TFS filling out the drums and bass. Everyone was real jazzed on the way things turned out so Aaron and I started trying to scrape together a line-up. He got in contact with Gene, Ahron Reinhard, and Andy Norton who were all old friends of ours and we got going. This was all probably ’05 or ’06. I had known Gene from his days in No Justice. On their tour with The Nerve Agents, they all stayed at my parents house in NC and after that I became friends with Desperate Measures and met Andy and Ahron through them. I graduated high school in spring ’02, joined Desperate Measures on their first US tour that summer and left for boot camp two weeks after that tour ended. So I was in the military and stationed in Mississippi at the time all of the Give stuff started going down and would fly up for practice a few times a year. I finally got out of the Air Force in Sept ’08 and split for Maryland. Aaron left earlier in the year on a Buddhist retreat and Ben stepped in on Guitar and once I moved up we got started right away with Give. Andy and Ahron dropped out around this time so we ended up recruiting Ian and his friend Pat in their place. Pat hung on until about 2010 or so and then Doug joined up on bass. Other than talking with Aaron in the very beginning, I don’t really remember talking about the sound of the band with anyone else that much again, it just kind of happened. It went through a lot of member changes but the style of music was never really a topic of conversation. I think it was just known that we weren’t sticking to a specific style so anything goes and we’ll keep whats good. And no matter what we do, it’s always going to be grounded in hardcore. We can get as stupid as we want and try and twist it as far as we can and at the end of the day, its just going to sound like hardcore to me. It’s in our fucking bones, there is no escape at this point.
Prior to starting to play out, record, etc. did you have a certain vision of how you wanted the band to sound, be perceived, etc?
For the image, probably, I can’t remember now. It most likely wasn’t too focused, and changed a million times before anything actually happened. The music for Give I’ve never really had a big hand in, I just take what they create and paste my bark over top as best I can and try and add cool graphics and push it out into the world. I know with the first record, I wanted it to have flowers on the cover and be really colorful. I was probably working against all the dark imagery that it seemed everything had fallen into at the time and I wanted to introduce a more energetic agenda. After that I just kind of built upon that theme. It’s interesting to think what the imagery could have developed into if I had done something else with that first record. But, yeah I definitely spent a lot of time thinking about and trying to control how every aspect of the band would be perceived but quickly learned that it’s impossible. It never matches the vision in your head exactly and that’s the beauty. You nurture something and it grows into it’s own identity. Always reminds me of what Jack Brewer from Saccharine Trust said “Once the music leaves your head, it’s already compromised”.
Where did the idea for the flowerhead thing come from? And why did you choose the flower to use for the logo?
The flowerhead thing was something I have always wanted to do, and finally had the chance to with this band. As a kid there were a lot of toy lines, especially action figures that had their own mail away fan clubs in the beginning and newsletters and mail away shit was big with video game companies in that era. There weren’t any bands that I liked that did it while I’ve been around, but one look at a Samhain mail-order form and you can’t walk straight for a few days thinking about how cool that shit is. Getting and sending mail is such a great experience and doing the flowerhead thing kept me busy and just let me expand the world of Give. I remember looking at the Gilded Eternity album by Loop and it had an address to write to that said “Soundheads”. I thought that was the coolest shit so I called a song of ours “Flowerhead” and created an explanation for what I believed a Flowerhead to be like and then just started sending people stuff in the mail. It was slow at first and I knew I was going to have to do it for free and finance the whole thing, but now it’s up to almost 500 people. I don’t send as many things out now because I do everything myself and it takes forever. These days its mostly stickers, pins, newsletters, etc but I have sent out cassettes, patches, and t-shirts in the past. The free shirts were sent out when we had about 140 members and that was a huge project, but was something I wanted to do from the beginning. I wanted to do free 7″s but thats just not possible now unless I hit the lottery. If anyone wants to join, just send a letter or postcard with your address and shirt size to:
1326 Newton Street NE
Washington, DC 20017
For the “G” flower, I just wanted a strong logo. I’ve always loved that type of thing with other bands, something easily identifiable that could take the place of the band name that you can draw in math class. So to go along with the flowers on the cover of the first record, I drew up a little sketch of a flower with a G in the middle. Most Likely had the Wu-Tang and Faith logo’s in mind and our friend Luiso Ponce from Guatemala took my sketch and created the flower we have been using ever since.
Your vision/aesthetic for the band seems very focused. The uniformity of record sleeves, the t-shirt designs, etc. Do you have any certain bands or artists that you draw influence from to realize your concepts?
It’s all just comic books, cartoons, magazines, record covers, action figures, video game artwork, etc. I’ve always enjoyed consistency within artwork, so once I used the flowers on the cover of the first 12″, I just tried to build and add on from there. In my mind, Give is visually just a combination of everything I like. For bands, it’s hopefully something near Youth of Today, Nirvana, and Ignition. I’ve also always been a real big fan of live photography. I want a record fucking packed with pictures of the band playing live. The ideal vision would be somewhere near Charles Peterson meets the True Till Death 7″. But specific artists, hmmm…John Pound has always been a dude I’ve enjoyed. He drew the entire first series of Garbage Pail Kids, and basically created the look and design for the rest of the series. His current artwork is real wild. Love his shit. Peter Beard is great, I really like his method. Not sure of names but whoever was responsible for a ton of the design and artwork on Japanese famicom handbills, it doesn’t get any better. Skateboarding also basically handed me my future in the early/mid 90’s and opened up a whole new world for me. I got exposed to a lot of music through skate video’s and eventually found my way here. Alien Workshop and Toy Machine were companies that I loved from the start and Ed Templeton’s art and design is a real big influence. I’m actually in the process of compiling all Toy Machine content from ’93-99 and releasing a zine for each year during that time with all ad’s interviews, pics, stickers, artwork etc. I’ve got interviews with Panama Dan and Donny Barley already and hope to one day help design a full color book compiling everything in extreme detail. If anyone has anything dealing with Toy Machine in the 90’s, please get in touch. Early Nintendo and action figure artwork is also a real big inspiration for me. For the first TMNT action figures released in 1988, the design theme for the artwork was called “Green on Brick”, and for Give I would basically call it like “Flower on We’re not in this alone”.
Thus far, what are you most proud of with GIVE?
I’m really just proud that it exists. I feel like I was scheming about doing a band like this for so long, I’m just glad that it actually fucking happened. But beyond that, it’s probably the lyrics and especially the visual element, the artwork, and aesthetic. The fact that people pick up on that and single it out as one of their favorite parts of the band makes me feel great. I spend a lot of thought and energy on creating and executing things for that side of Give, and that type of stuff is a huge part of the reason I’ve always liked bands, I want it to feel like a cult, you have to join our world, we aren’t adapting, you are adapting to us.
Are there any bands currently going that GIVE would align themselves with? Why?
I would align us with any of our friends bands, but if you are asking which bands feel like a perfect fit sonically or aesthetically, I don’t really know, probably any one and no one. Who we are, what we are, what we sound like, etc. we just do it, you figure out how it fits into your life. Some bands around now that I enjoy and really like how they operate are Omegas, Fury, No Tolerance, Mindset, Intent, Fucked Up, Big Mouth, Turnstile, every new band from DC. Way too many to list, there is just too much good stuff out there to not be excited about something. My girlfriend Emily plays in a band called Big Mouth with Ian from Give and they just released a really interesting record. She also just started a new band called Post Pink that is great. Both from Baltimore and worth your ears. I’m also real excited about this new band Burst of Rage. Four young kids who worship the X marks the spot comp, so a lot for me to like there.
You will be self releasing EFC. Why not do it thru another label? Did you think that it was important to do this album/statement on your own w/o any outside help?
A few labels offered, but we just wanted to keep it to ourselves. I actually did take the record to Ian and talked to him about Dischord releasing it, but in the end he wasn’t interested. But besides Dischord, the only other option in my mind was doing it ourselves on Moonflower. Partially, we just wanted to have control but we also paid a lot for the recording and knew that no other label would be stupid enough to shell out the amount we dropped. I’m not opposed to other labels, it just has to feel right and with a record this big, I just wanted to make sure everything was perfect.
Along with self-releasing EFC, you’re doing two ‘maxi-singles’ for Rev and Lockin’ Out. What was the idea/vision of doing the 12” eps along with the EFC LP?
Revelation and Lockin’ Out had told us they wanted to work with us, so we found a way to do it. We had a lot of songs to work with at the time so we thought doing a record with each could be a fun idea. Doing 12″s had been my plan from the beginning but it’s hard to get a label to take a chance on a new band with a 12″, it was just easier doing the 7″s at first. After all the singles we released, I feel like the 12″ single is the next step and it just gives us more chances to create cool artwork. The plan was for the 12″s to serve as singles to the actual LP. I’m really excited about the artwork for the Rev record. We had a guy, Kinya, write in from Japan and he sent a picture of some clay art that he made with a guy holding a flower and it looked really fucking cool. I got in touch with him right away and asked if he would be interested in doing a record cover. He was game and completed the layout and its one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. He made this huge Rev star logo with flowers behind the star where the yellow would be and Jordan asked Kinya to ship over the full clay piece so they could hang it in the offices, so cool. We made huge posters of the complete clay artwork and everyone should have it hanging on their wall. The Lockin’ Out EP should be out soon, maybe summer but probably not. I just have to finish the artwork, the music is completely done. I just felt like we needed to give people a break after releasing an LP and an EP, let them digest that before we shove something else on the plate. But yeah, we love the way Greg and Lockin’ Out has always operated and obviously being on the same record label with BOLD is a huge plus, so we made it work with both labels.
Lyrically, you definitely write from a more abstract angle than most bands associated with HC? Again, any influence on that method of writing? Are there any songs coming up on EFC, the maxi-singles or just in the general GIVE repertoire that you’d like to highlight and talk about the meaning of?
I don’t really know specific things that influence me, I just know what works for me. lyrics have always been a huge deal to me and I think a lot of film dialogue influences me, but I like when a song title alone draws you in and I really like when the music and lyrics work together to create a complete thought. Like in the A.R. Kane song “Haunted” the simple line “you feel so far away” is repeated a few times and it works so well with the music, it elevates a common phrase to a place that just knocks you out. I’m not really sure how to do that, I just write lyrics and hope for the best. One of the best examples is that song “Talk to me” by Porcelain Raft, extremely basic words but when they are combined with that music, that song is so beyond. There is probably a lot of trance influence seeping in Give lyrics, Pet Shop Boys and New Order are also a big deal for me. I really like Greg Dulli and think he is one of the most consistent lyricists. But for the LP, there is a song called “Paint my life” on the LP, I had the song title bouncing around in my head for awhile and was slowly chipping away at a lyrical theme. It eventually locked into place and now kind of seems like a song I have been meaning to write since the beginning. It’s me trying to describe how a major theme running through lyrics within hardcore is thinking for yourself, forming your own identity, knowing what you believe, sticking to your ideals, never changing what you stand for, etc. and how that never really felt like me. I don’t have a fucking clue what I’m doing or what I’m thinking and I’ve always pretty much felt like that. My opinions and ideas are constantly changing. I’m being pushed and pulled through the world at every moment by people, places, things, etc. It seems so basic, I don’t know. There is another song “Welcome to Dust” that is about my friend Chad’s father. He died a few years ago and I had Chad tell me the whole story and constructed the lyrics from everything he told me. I really like how that one turned out. I recorded the whole conversation and we intended to use a clip of it somewhere in the song, but the iphone it was recorded on was stolen a few weeks before recording. “Voodoo leather” is another song that is going to be on the LP. It’s from an earlier recording we did for a Heartworm cassette, but we shortened and changed it a bit. I’m really glad it’s making a comeback because it contains some of the favorite lyrics I’ve written. It’s about violence. “Sonic Bloom” is a song that we have been playing for about 3 or 4 years and we finally found a place for it on this LP. It’s about always pushing forward with new idea’s, sounds, scenes, etc.
Talk about the origins of Moshers’ Delight. Please tell us how and when it came to be, who is involved, etc. Is it a collective? How big of a role does it play within the band? Is there a certain role/aesthetic the label has?
Mosher’s Delight started a little bit ago, maybe 2012. It was basically just born out of friends talking about hardcore. At the beginning it was Me, Zack Wuerthner, Chad Troncale and Austin Stemper from DC, Mike Fairley, Matt LaForge and the Demolition guys from Canada, Gil Sayfan and Kenny Fontaine from Boston, Mir Ali from Texas, and Ned Russin from PA. I brought up the idea to do a fanzine and just make it a one pager with demo reviews backed with an interview that we could bang out quickly and give away for free. Everyone was down. Not a huge project so we could keep it easy and I really missed doing layouts in the fanzine format. Mike the Mosher from Toronto did all the reviews in the first one so we called it Mosher’s Delight. I got Chris X to do some artwork and he came through beautifully like he always does and that was it. In the beginning there were more people directly involved but now it has thinned to just myself and Zack doing most of it. Picking bands, mailing shit, deciding on shirts, etc .We still get a lot of help from our friends with reviews, writing, support, etc though so thinking of it as a collective wouldn’t be wrong. After a few issues of the zine Zack came to me with the idea of expanding into a record label in addition to the zine, so we pushed ahead with that. And just like anything, it’s ballooned into what it is now. It doesn’t really have anything to do with Give, I’m just involved in both. My main concern is the look and design of everything, I want everything to look as cool as possible. Obviously zines like Boiling Point, Open Your Eyes, Schism, Hardware, Dear Jesus, Sold Out, Town of Hardcore etc provide a lot of the inspiration and Zack and I love a lot of the smaller labels that operated with impeccable style like Schism, Axtion Packed, Step Forward, Hi-Impact, so that’s the goal really. Take all the amazing shit that came before and add our spin to it while supporting current hardcore and releasing our friends music. For upcoming musical releases we got the Burst of Rage demo coming very soon . The biggest thing coming up is Issue #10. It would have been out sooner but I stumbled into a BOLD article that is just too good to not include. I got like 20 pictures from Revelation from the ’89 summer tour BOLD did and Matt Warnke hooked me up with like 50 more never before seen pics from the same tour that are mostly shots of everything that happens between shows. So I’m interviewing each member about the tour and gathering memories from people who were at the shows and it’s turning into a great piece. Look for that soon, we are real excited about it. After all this and all the new Give releases I’m also helping John White on an Open Your Eyes fanzine anthology.
Last words, where to get the record, what else, etc
Our LP “Electric Flower Circus” is available now. We are sold out of the fist press, but distros and record stores hopefully should have copies. You can buy it digitally from us at www.givemusical.bandcamp.com and you can just download it for free from a bunch of places. We are headed to Europe again this summer and Adagio 830 from Germany did a press of the LP with a whole different layout and you can order those too, I think they are still available, maybe a second press. Amendment Records is also doing a small South American press of the LP with a new layout and everything, should be available soon. The “Sonic Bloom” 12″ on Revelation is out and we have copies on black vinyl plus a poster that you need to own. I also started an instagram account with Tim from Double Cross and Zack from Moshers Delight that is dedicated to posting images of Youth of Today and it’s the first step towards a book about the band we are doing with Ray, Porcell, and Jordan. Check it out at @youthcrew88. We are collecting photos, stories, etc now so if you have anything, get in touch.