Skateboarding was kind of the weapon that shot me into extreme music. I played a ton of Tony Hawk Pro Skater games growing up and there were always punk/metal bands in rotation. Then once I started buying skate videos, my favorite skaters had killer punk/metal tracks in their parts (I could list a bunch of them, but let's save that for another time haha) Also, observing and talking to other kids who were into punk/metal at the skatepark got me into bands. From there I kind of networked and found bands I liked.
My introduction into DIY happened unknowingly for me. Everything that had to do with punk in Lansing was always DIY, so I just thought that's how all shows were done until I started going to shows at bars and small venues! I think it's funny looking back because I had no idea about DIY or anything like that. I was just interested in the music, not the politics.
It'll take me days to explain my personal views regarding all the issues, so I'm going to summarize this the best I can. Humans, animals, and the environment are all interconnected. What each one of those things does, essentially effects the others. Sadly, it's us (humans) that do a majority of the damage. Since we did the damage, it's our responsibility to make things right. Sadly we don't always think that way when a majority of the human population participates in institutions/industries that wreak havoc by killing animals and pollute the environment. I personally believe in taking responsibility and try to do what's right for other species and the planet, whether that's living a vegan/eco-friendly lifestyle or informing people about these issues. These issues are important to me because I personally believe animals don't deserve to killed for food/clothing/entertainment, humans deserve to be free/have equal opportunities/not be oppressed because of who they are, and the environment in general is important needs preservation because without the Earth we're essentially dead. I'm a "tree hugger" at heart basically.
3. With politically charged music, do you think the music should take precedence or the message?
That's a good question. For me, I've found myself super jaded with music and my personal beliefs and politics have nothing to do with music or whatever subculture I'm grouped into. If I find a band that has something to say that I can get behind, there's more of a chance I'll give them an honest listen, regardless of genre or talent. If the artists/musicians actively participate in the movements behind their messages, that's a big bonus to me. That'll make me more interested in their music for sure. I believe if you're playing politically charged music, the message is more important. If you're a competent musician, that's even better!
4. When did you transition from going to shows and watching bands to putting on shows and playing in bands? What sparked the transition?
I think the transition happened when I was 16/17. I was able to drive and be involved with scenes, so from there I wanted to play in bands and book shows. When you're that age it's an exciting time. Everything is new and you find other people who are just like you and that jump starts some sort of passion for music and the culture that surrounds it.
5. Did you get into the more extreme genres such as" sass, grind, etc. right away or was that later on?
hahaha well, sass grind didn't exist until me and The Cambodian Homies coined it a few years ago. In all seriousness, After I dove into punk/metal when I was 13/14 that was when the extreme music was the goal. I was always looking for the fastest/heaviest/most pissed off music whether it was in the realm of punk or metal. I'm still that way today with death metal and tech grind. As for flamboyant grindcore bands, they were so accessible and integrated into large functions of music that they were everywhere. The Locust, Daughters, The #12, See You Next Tuesday were all household names when I was younger. That was a cool genre for a few years and then it died.
6. How do you feel about the recent resurgence of sass and sass influenced bands? Are you happy that the torch is being passed on or are you worried that the genre will become watered down and derivative?
It'll never be what it was back then, but it's alright. It sounds like The Cambodian Heat influenced a few of them, so that's cool. Like I enjoyed that style of music when I was younger and rehashing that style 10 years later with some friends was cool, but overall I have no opinion on where it's going. I'm not really concerned with it, you know? It's music. It'll do it's own thing.
7. Since you mentioned it, let's talk about The Cambodian Heat. Why after ten years did you and your friends decide to break out the white belts?
TCH never really set out to be anything specifically. My buddy Tim and I wanted to start a band and incorporate all our favorite genres, kind of like what the #12 did by taking influence from hardcore, melodic death metal, and grindcore, then mixing them together. If you go back and listen to the first demo, that's what we did. Then I made a line up change and asked Dylan Houpt (Anne Hero/The Lords Winning Team, now Gas Up Yr Hearse) to drum for TCH, then we did another demo that was much more chaotic/heavy, what the kids call whitebelt! Then we got Rod in the mix and the line up was solidified. In true whitebelt fashion, we had a short lived relationship with that sound and don't really have that kind of sound anymore.
8. Do you care to elaborate on the new direction and what pushed y'all in that direction?
Honestly, I became bored with the style and I started growing in a different direction musically. For me, I was also over the scene we were involved with. I wasn't listening to screamo or "whitebelt" music anymore and I separated myself from the people in that scene and I ended up being much happier. I was listening to more classic grind bands like Carcass, Napalm Death, and Assuck, then one day it hit me... Fuck whitebelt, let's just play some straight up grind and Rod was on board. Then we released our latest demo in the Fall of 16.
9. What was your reasoning behind starting Off Cloud Nine?
I wanted to to release older bands who had great releases, but never found their way onto vinyl and release my music and other bands I thought were cool.
10. Off Cloud Nine ended in 2016 and was followed by your new cassette label, Coercion Cassettes. Why did you decide to discontinue Off Cloud Nine and start a whole new label?
Like I mentioned early, I just wasn't into the music Off Cloud Nine was known for anymore. I was burned out on that scene and not listening to screamo anymore. I wanted to release music I was actually into and do fun/small releases, no huge commitments, so I started Coercion Cassettes while running OCN at the same time. I had plans to just run them both at the same time, but then a situation occurred that I nobody could or would be ready for. My mother passed away, then I realized I wouldn't have time to dedicate to both labels, so I ended OCN and continued on with Coercion.
11. Do you have anything interesting in the works that you would like to announce or discuss?
The Cambodian Heat will be playing Harshfest in Detroit this summer. We could be recording an actual EP as well. I'm trying to release more music under Bring Our Demise and do some spoken word/musical performances (similar to how I did them when I was playing music as The Truth About Dreaming). I'll be releasing more killer hardcore through Coercion Cassettes as well.
Coercion Cassettes: Bandcamp - Storenvy
Off Cloud Nine: Bandcamp - Storenvy
The Cambodian Heat
The Truth About Dreaming
Bring Our Demise
*Edited by Haley