I had been trying to talk to Dillinger Four for months and having no luck until Tyler, one of the zine's readers, found an email address for Erik and sent it over. Within a week, Erik had responded and an hour later, I was on the phone with he and Paddy (sequentially, not at the same time). 2 1/2 hours later, I was tired but I had the interview. This is the first part of the interview, and contains only Erik's responses.
So how are you doing?
Erik: Good. You check your email fast.
Actually, I was online and getting ready to update my site and I figured that, considering how long I had been trying to do this interview, I'd better get it done now.
Erik: Totally. Good deal. I'm sitting here reading Spin.
What the hell are you reading Spin for?
Erik: There's this Ben Weasel article. It's two or three pages.
Which editor fucked up and let that in?
Erik: I don't know. It's pretty cool though. It's weird. I just talked to him on the phone yesterday for the first time. Me and Paddy are both from Chicago so I knew him years and years ago, especially when he became such a recluse and you don't see him for forever, but I talked to him on the phone yesterday and then I just picked up this Spin and there's this interview with him.
Very cool. So how are things going with the Triple Rock?
Erik: Going well. I'm supposed to be working but I'm just sitting around doing nothing.
Aren't you remodeling it?
Erik: Yeah, that's going now. We'll break ground as soon as it's warm enough, as soon as the ground thaws which might not be until April, but hopefully it'll start sometime in March. It looks like it should be done, I'm hoping for August first but I think realistically it'll probably take until September first for it to be totally done, but then we'll have a legally 300 capacity room and can probably push 400 or 500 people in there to do shows which will be cool and is kind of how I got into this in the first place.
I've heard it's a bar and restaurant and that you have a lot of vegetarian food there.
Erik: Yeah. It's really a bar, first and foremost. We have a full menu and our kitchen is open pretty much all the hours that we're open but just the way the place is configured - it's a 50-seat place, there are only 5 booths and a string of chairs up and down the bar - it's not really constructed well for eating. Our drink business basically crowds out our food business every night. People take up the tables and sit around drinking and then you come in and you're hungry and there's no place to sit. We don't even have to be that crowded for a group of four to come down and not be able to sit and eat, so it really is a bar first and foremost, but that's part of the expansion too is hopefully being able to serve more food. For a bar, I think we have an inordinate amount of vegan and vegetarian food but we have a lot of meat too.
That's one of the things I really respected about the idea, because it seemed like you were applying punk rock ethics to a business and trying to run it in a vaguely punk rock way.
Erik: Yeah. I mean, it's a small business and bars and cafés and businesses like that have to have their own personality to work and they usually reflect the personality of the owners and the people who work there, so obviously our place is going to have a lot of those characteristics. To us, it would be unthinkable to have our own restaurant and not have vegetarian food because if you're in the punk rock community, it seems like everyone is vegetarian. You grow up with that and you're around that for a long time and it wouldn't even occur to us to not have vegetarian food so I guess it sort of works that way.
That's actually similar to how "Shotgun Confessional" came about, wasn't it?
Erik: Yeah, actually. You read your little liner notes.
I did everything I could to memorize every song.
Erik: Yeah, yeah. I mean, that was the first song I wrote lyrics for, ever. I had never actually written lyrics to a song before that song. I don't know. I tried to think of things that had bothered me recently and I was thinking about this kid I met in Europe who really bothered me. I was vegetarian for 12 years and I was talking to him and there was a language barrier to some extent, he was Dutch - I was in Belgium but he was Dutch - and we were talking about vegetarianism and I told him that I was planning to go vegan which I didn't and he was all, "Will you still drink beer?" because I was drinking beer and I said, "Yeah, I'll still drink beer" and he was like, "But that has animals. You can't do that." First of all, there's plenty of beer that doesn't, but the conversation just went on like that - "Are you still going to do this? Are you still going to do that?" There's just this dogmatic thing like it was a club, not a dietary choice, and I certainly did not want to be a member of that kid's club, not after that. I was thinking that if I was a meat eater and I had run across this kid and I was sort of interested in vegetarianism, after talking to him, the last thing in the world that I'd do would be stopping eating meat, but that attitude runs through a lot of things too. Obviously the song didn't have anything to do with vegetarianism, but just that attitude.
Yeah, it had more to do with people pointing fingers.
Erik: Yeah. It had to do with people taking their ideologies so far and not respecting other people's attempts and being all about drawing lines instead of trying to include people.
This may seem like an odd question about that situation, but how old was the kid? From my experience, it seems like when I run into kids who are really dogmatic about things, they tend to be a little younger.
Erik: He was young, yeah. This was a lot of years ago so I was pretty young too. I was probably 20, I guess. He was probably 18 or 19. It's kind of funny when you think about it. My experience has been that the people I've met over the years, when it comes to vegetarianism or straight-edge, when it comes to things like that, it does seem like the people who take those things the farthest are the ones who, almost inevitably, are the ones who aren't continuing with it a few years down the road. In a way, that's a cliché but in my experience that's been very true. It's been my experience too that some of the most macho asshole fucking guys I knew in the world have turned out to be gay. It's that weird sort of overcompensation; it's about insecurity.
They're trying to cover up for something.
Erik: Yeah, exactly. It has to do with insecurity. My experience has been that, right now, if I could find that kid, I could almost guarantee that kid is eating meat.
And probably drinking beer.
Erik: And probably drinking beer, yeah, probably. Statistically, of the people that I've known, he would be one of the most likely people to have gone back on those things that were so important to him 7 years ago.
One of the things that's always fascinated me about punk rock, and bothered me as well as I've gotten older and as I've grown up within punk rock, is that it seems like the people who are most hardcore about it are inevitably the people who are practicing corporate law a few years later. Punk rock is their rebellious phase and sooner or later they grow out of it.
Erik: It's the same thing. It's insecurity. The people who have to wear punk on their sleeve and abuse everybody about how punk they are tend to be the people who become what they hate. People become what they hate and I think those people are most likely to become what they hate, the people who are the most dogmatic about what they believe at any given time.
Nice reference to Screeching Weasel.
So one of the things that I've really been curious about is how you approach being a band. I've talked to a fair amount of bands about this recently, about how a band is like a mom and pop business. You at least have to do things to sustain it, and I was wondering how you approach maintaining the business end of things ethically.
Erik: Yeah. It's weird because that side of it really creeps up on you. It just seemed like overnight that we went from never having to consider any of those issues. It's money. You spend a lot of time on your band for nothing where it's just constantly sucking money out of you and you do it purely out of love and then it seems like you blink and all of a sudden - after 3 years of us planning to go play a show somewhere where we know we're lucky to even get the show and if we get 10 bucks, that's great, or a box of spaghetti or something, that would be awesome - the tables sort of turn, the longer you do your band, and you start to realize, especially when you're getting more into club situations, they're not doing us a favor. We're bringing them people. So wait a minute - if we're going to come and we bring 200 people to this club, part of that money is ours. You have to start thinking about that, making sure that we get every bit of that that's ours because it's not the way we're used to anymore. It's like you're doing them a favor. That hit us out of nowhere, suddenly realizing that when we make a record, the record will actually sell now. We don't have to do whatever we can to get it to whoever we can. Now it will just sort of sell so we have to take that into account. It grows slowly. You start to think, "Well, the last record sold this much so we know now that the next one will sell this much." All of a sudden, you see the money that will come in the future and it's tricky. It is like a mom and pop business. It grows really slowly and kind of hits you out of nowhere. The trick is we have simple rules for ourselves. Sometimes things are unavoidable and sometimes things happen by accident, but our rule is that we don't do anything or contribute to anything or participate in anything that we personally wouldn't kick up whatever the price is for that thing to have or to go see. We don't play a show that we wouldn't go see. We don't do a comp that we don't think we'd like to own or a split or anything, and that keeps it kind of simple. It makes it easy for us as far as not falling into weird situations where we're uncomfortable with what's going on and it's nice because we're strict about that and it means that any place that we are or anything that we've done, we are endorsing wholeheartedly just by being there or doing it and we've thought it through. It's very, very rare that we wind up in an accidental situation that we feel awkward about what our mom and pop business is doing. We just stick to that. We don't think about what other people will think of this or will they like this; we just think about whether we'd do it.
So that explains the Avail and Leatherface tour.
Erik: Exactly. It was kind of weird because some ticket prices were definitely higher than we had done and some venues that were bigger than we had done and things like that, but at the same time, with both of those bands, we went up and down the list and there turned out to be a few stinkers in there, a couple of surprises here and there, when the ticket was 8 bucks, I think there were even 1 or 2 shows when the ticket was 10 bucks. As I've gotten older, I'm less dogmatic about the price of things because I know more now about where all that money needs to go. Yeah, we looked at it and I think it was worth it, I think it was a good show, I think it was worth that price. There are limits on that of course. 10 dollars is a bit high for 3 bands, I think.
On the other hand, that still boils down to a cost of about 3 bucks per band.
Erik: Yeah. The bands aren't getting anywhere near 3 bucks a band. The clubs take out at least half of that. On a 10 dollar ticket at an average show, if you have 3 bands on there, the bands aren't going to be splitting things equitably, but if they were, I'm giving each band maybe a dollar, maybe a dollar and a half. That's on a 10 dollar ticket. Think of how little money that is on a good 6 dollar punk rock ticket.
For what it's worth, the show at Corona was amazing. I told you at the show that a bunch of friends and myself drove up from San Diego to see it. It was an awesome show and I'm glad you guys did it.
Erik: It was a tough one too. We had been banned from that place, we thought, the previous year, maybe the year before. I can't remember.
Did it have to do with Paddy's nakedness?
Erik: It had to do with nakedness, yeah. We just went and really shit in the punchbowl the first time we played there, so were kind of nervous about how that would go. I think it went well though, I think we had a pretty good time in Corona.
Except for Billy jumping on my neck.
Erik: He's a big boy too.
200 pounds of Billy is not the first thing I'd choose to have landing on my neck.
Erik: He's up around 250 now, I bet.
So the first thing that grabbed me about your music was the clever song titling, the puns you put into them and the references, like "Portrait of the Artist as a Fucking Asshole" playing on James Joyce and "Maximum Piss & Vinegar" taking the piss out of MRR, "Let Them Eat Thomas Paine." The songs are really loaded with double entendres, puns and references to historical figures.
Erik: As far as the titles go, I can't take any credit. That's all Patrick. Patrick's the kind of guy, for as long as I've known him, we basically grew up together, that if you need a name for your band, he already has 50 of them in his head at any given time that he's just waiting to give. He's just one of those guys. He thinks of cool titles of things for no reason. He named Strike albums for them because they couldn't think of anything. You know what I mean? I think he's the kind of guy that, when he sat down to write a paper for school when he was in school, always had the title first. That's just what he's like, but yeah, but that's one of the things that we all like. We like to have the song titles give a different spin on the actual lyrics. I like it when a song title has nothing to do with the actual lyrics. Sometimes they're just inside jokes, like "Are You That Motherfucker With The Banana?" is an inside joke, a lot of those things are just jokes obviously, but sometimes they lend a little more. Sometimes they make sense and lend a little more meaning to the song or put a different slant on the lyrics in the song that you wouldn't find in the body of the lyrics.
Well, take "Let Them Eat Thomas Paine." It resonates through Marie Antoinette saying "Let them eat cake," and the entire song, from my perspective, seems to be about refusing to take the shit that's shoved down your throat on a daily basis.
Of course Thomas Paine was famous for not taking shit.
Erik: Yeah. That's Paddy, man. I have never titled a song for the band. I write the lyrics. On "Versus God," that's the only song that Patrick wrote lyrics for. I wrote the lyrics to the other 12, but Patrick still titled everything. That's sort of an arrangement we have. I write lyrics and give them to him and then he picks what he thinks it should be called.
That leads to me to the next question - how does the songwriting break down, both lyrically and musically?
Erik: Usually, you can tell who wrote a song by who's singing the bulk of it. Usually if I write a song, I write the main parts for myself. Paddy does that too, but there are some exceptions. Billy doesn't write really, but sometimes he sings more of a song. As far as writing it, up until "Versus God," it was pretty much 50/50. On "Versus God," for a variety of weird circumstances, Patrick didn't have as much material by the time we needed to record it so it wound up really lopsided and that's probably the only thing that kind of bums us out about that record. That's just the way the chips fell when we needed to do it. We had always liked before that it was usually pretty even, maybe one or two songs by me more than Patrick, but pretty close, at least like a 60/40 split as far as writing, and I think that the next things that we do, we already have our next thing done, it's not recorded yet, but everything's written, and it's back to half and half. Half Patrick's songs, half mine.
That's the one for No Idea, right?
Erik: Yeah, that's just going to be an 8-song EP, as yet untitled.
Until Patrick gets around to it.
Erik: Yeah. He's got too many to pick from to decide which one he likes best, but yeah, that's going to be the next thing that comes out. We're going to record that next month so that should be out soon.
How'd that come about anyway?
Erik: The No Idea thing? Mostly because Patrick went and lived in Gainesville for a while, right before we did "Versus God" last year. He lived down there for a few months and he worked at No Idea, stuffing envelopes and sending out mail order. It was a label that we were always kind of fans of anyway; they put out a lot of really cool stuff and we always thought we had to do something with No Idea sometime and it just seemed like the perfect time. We're done with albums for a little while, we had some songs starting to come together and we had the choice of either jumping in and trying to do another album or doing something different. What we like about No Idea too is that he's always really cool about doing really unique packaging. We haven't really decided what it's going to be like, but particularly on the vinyl, I think the vinyl is going to be insane, and he's really cool with that and a lot of labels aren't. We thought this would be a cool opportunity to do really interesting packaging.
The splits with Hot Water Music, Tomorrow and Clairmel, a lot of the 10 inches and 11 inches he's done are really amazingly well designed.
Erik: That's what we're trying to do. I think we're going to do a 9" or 11" or something like that. You know what's weird is that, honestly, something we've noticed over the past few years is that vinyl literally doesn't sell anymore. It virtually does not, surprisingly. There are some exceptions and some bands in some genres just tend to do well on vinyl and always will. Talking to people from here, if you talk to a lot of Havoc bands, Profane Existence and that sort of stuff, all of those bands still do well, but everywhere else, it's really strange. It used to be a lot more even between how much vinyl you'd sell of a punk record and how many CDs and now, with the bigger bands, the bands that really sell a lot of records, it's literally like 4 or 5 percent of what they sell. For us, I think "Midwestern Songs" only sold 2,000 on vinyl and that's out of 18,000 copies. Think about that. That's very minimal and that's actually considered kind of a lot. It's really strange. For me, it just seems like it's finally happened. The people that buy vinyl are people who love vinyl, so for us, if we're going to make vinyl, if we have the opportunity, we might as well do something cool or interesting with it.
So what's the deal with this Motorhead 7"?
Erik: Well, we did a Halloween show ... can you hold on a second? Patrick's on the phone. I can probably put the phones together and you can ask him questions. He says "Hello. No questions."
No questions for Paddy at this time.
Erik: No questions.
Well, if you could relay the message that I said "Hi," I'd appreciate it.
Erik: Okay. So what was I talking about? Oh yeah, we played a Halloween show and dressed up like Motorhead and half-assedly learned 7 songs, but a few of them we had down pretty well and the guy who put on the show is Jason Parker who does THD Records who put out "This Shit Is Genius" and the split with The Strike that we did a long time ago, so he threw it out there and suggested we do a cover 7" of the Motorhead stuff so it's something that we're planning on doing.
Which songs are you planning on doing or have you gotten that far yet?
Erik: We haven't gotten that far yet. In fact, we've sort of already forgotten most of those songs anyway so we have to go back and relearn them and figure out which ones we're going to do and learn the lyrics. We didn't really know the words that well. We kind of faked them.
Wait, I thought Lane was famous for forgetting songs 29 minutes after you recorded them.
Erik: Yeah, that's pretty much it, but Motorhead songs, we don't have that problem. He'll never forget. He's probably the only one who can remember how to play them. So yeah, that'll happen sometime, but I'm not sure when exactly.
So going back to the songwriting, how does the music break down? You said you wrote most of the songs on "Versus God" but that it's otherwise pretty even, but how does the music break down? Do you come in with riffs or what?
Erik: Songs are pretty much the same, there are some exceptions when Paddy and I collaborate a little bit, but for the most part, it's the same way. He writes an entire song start to finish and you can tell those because he's singing them. Then he brings it in and usually not much happens to it. It's the same thing with me. I write a song start to finish, bring it in, and for the most part they come out exactly how they were written. We don't usually change things too much beyond how we wrote them.
So you have something like the Bob Mould/Grant Hart division of songwriting labor.
Erik: Kind of, yeah. Everyone kind of contributes a little bit as far as arrangements go and spur of the moment, whether things are working or not or coming up with a weird idea off the cuff, but for the most part, pretty much everything is complete when it comes to practice.
D4's songs are topical but they don't sound like you picked up a newspaper, read an article and thought the subject was fucked. You seem to write about topics that are specific enough that people can identify with them but general enough that they aren't going to be irrelevant in six months.
Erik: Yeah. It's hard. That's one of the things that Paddy and I have been trying to struggle with more and more, not always very successfully, is to be able to write what I guess you would call political songs but without having to rely on rhetoric. Rhetoric is the easy way to do it. It's easy to write a song and yell "Fuck the government" 4 times in the chorus, not to say that a song like that can't rule, but it's a lot harder to write a song that says "Fuck the government" without having to actually say it. I think that's what we're both trying to do. I think we just try and write, at our best, I think we just try to write what it's like to be around nowadays. Sometimes that's political, sometimes it's not. I think we try not to grab an issue and write a documentary about it. I think we only try to write about issues that touch us directly.
Like the bus drivers' strike.
Erik: Right, like that, that's a perfect example. Paddy wrote about that, he was bussing it, I think Paddy uses the bus theme more than a few times or whatever because he rides the bus a lot, but yeah, the bus drivers' strike was a perfect example. He wanted to write about that and he didn't want to just write a song about "Workers unite! Blah blah blah." He wanted to write about what that was like, how other people reacted to it, how he felt about it, but at the end of the day, it is a workers' rights song, it is a pro-union song but he didn't have to say it that way.
Well, he also brought it down to a very personal level because it critiqued the people who are all for workers' rights until it inconveniences them.
Erik: Totally. The UPS strike was like that all over. The punk music and record community relies so much on UPS. Bands on tour need to get shirts, records need to get labels out and when the UPS strike was going on, we were on tour then, and all we heard was bands griping about how they got screwed and couldn't get their shirts because of the fucking UPS strike. Yeah, everyone's inconvenienced by that, but it's a fucking damn good thing it happened. All these bands, even bands that sort of have those themes in their music, they don't realize what they're saying, they don't think about what they're implying by complaining about that.
I was actually out marching with them at the airport here because they were trying to make sure the trucks didn't get through to the planes.
Erik: That's the thing about us. We never claimed to be perfect. We make mistakes, we do contradictory things, we're hypocritical to a certain extent and I think that's a mistake that a lot of bands make. They pretend they aren't and no one is perfect. I don't like people who are.
Well, they're boring.
Erik: Yeah, really, but that's what life's all about it is figuring out where those contradictions are, learning from your mistakes and learning when your belief was wrong and accepting it or learning when your belief was right and having that reaffirmed.
So that's where a lot of the songs about religion, like "Holy Shit," come in, that questioning of values.
Erik: Yeah, totally. It's just indoctrination. When you grow up in even a semi-religious family, at least a church on Sunday kind of family, it starts at just such a young age that I can't imagine not spending a good part of your early life examining what that was all about. Same thing with the school system because you're forced into it before you have a way to make up your own mind. I'm always puzzled by people who are in their 30s and still go to the same church that they went to when they were a kid and they've done the same thing all along and never really questioned it. When people are like, "I am a Methodist" or "I am a Baptist," it seems strange to me. Someone who makes a decision like that and chooses their denomination or chooses their faith at a later period of life, who was an agnostic or an atheist or not raised religious, I can respect that because that's a person who examined ideologies and made a choice, but I'm always puzzled by people who are proud and serious about the faith they were born into because that's just the luck of the draw. If your parents had been something else, you would have been something else. You weren't automatically whatever denomination you've chosen before you were born. It just puzzles me. We spend a lot of time analyzing that and reflecting on that and I'm really puzzled and irritated by people who don't put the same kind of thought into it because it seems so obvious to me.
Were you raised religious?
Erik: Yeah, yeah, I was, but just sort of loosely. My parents were church on Sunday types, but my parents are also really, really strong academics, so it was the kind of thing where there was church on Sunday and no other discussion beyond that of religion. As soon as I decided it wasn't for me, I heard nothing from them about it, but for probably the first 12 or 13 years of my life, it was a regular thing.
So how do you think your parents being academics affected you growing up? Did that encourage you to investigate things more closely, take a longer look at them, be more introspective and critical of them?
Erik: Maybe. I wonder about that sometimes too because I did terribly in school. Paddy and I both got kicked out of high school, but, at least on my part, that wasn't any sort of reaction, like "Well, my parents are super smart so I'm going to try to be dumb." I don't think it was that. We went to a high school that had 3,500 students, it was a really big school and I think it was more not being able to handle that system, that sort of bureaucracy and institution and we both wound up finishing at other schools, but my parents, I don't know if it's their academic qualities or what, but they're part of that I think.
Going back to the songs, you mentioned that part of what you write about is the way things are right now, and I was getting a feeling from a lot of the songs that there's an undercurrent of alienation, loneliness, disaffection and being removed from the system as a whole. At the same time, there seems to be a bitterness about the process of having been ostracized, like in "Doublewhiskeycokenoice."
Erik: Yeah. Yeah. Once again, that's a Paddy song. He's at home. You should call him and get some questions into him. I'll give you his number after we're done. I'm sure he won't mind. But yeah, that's kind of a theme. I think you're right. I think that's a theme that kind of runs through things and who knows where that comes from. Sometimes we joke that we're nowhere near as gloomy as our lyrics can be. We definitely aren't sitting around, brooding over the ills of the world all the time. We're mostly sitting around drinking and hooting and hollering, but I guess songs are the only place where we really express those kind of things. It's what they're there for, I guess.
So you aren't always writing songs about killing motherfuckers.
Erik: Yeah, totally. Yeah, for instance, like that, like "Maximum Piss & Vinegar" is just a super angry song, but I'm a nice guy usually. I'm never out there looking to fucking smack people around. I've never been in a fight in my life but everyone feels those same feelings so the song is my outlet for those feelings.
So what was that song about? I have my own take on it based on the people who have pissed me off and knowing that what they did will come back around to them, but what did you write it about?
Erik: Yeah. It is specifically about a guy who I feel really took advantage and I don't feel like I entirely got him back and that was just my reaffirmation to myself that his day's going to come, not necessarily at my hands, but that it will, or at least that I really can't wait for it. I don't want to say who it is.
Of course not. You don't want him to know that it's coming.
Erik: Right, exactly. I just don't want it to be so specific. It kind of takes away from the song if everyone knows it's about one specific person, but yeah, it was inspired by one specific person.
"O.K.F.M.D.O.A." really grabbed me because it seemed to pretty accurately describe the scene here. I think it describes a lot of towns where people are bland and boring and don't really get into it and they don't seem passionate about the music and don't seem to give much of a shit. They go out because it's a place to be seen. It really seems to capture what goes in a lot of punk scenes - people show up, they drift away after a couple of years and in the meantime, it's no different than going to a dance club.
Erik: Yeah. That song is really general and jaded, getting irritated with how jaded people can be which is funny because Minneapolis isn't that bad with that. I think Minneapolis has a higher percentage than most cities of people who are still around that have been around for more than 10 years. There's a large population of people in the punk scene here who are well into their 30s that have been around since they were in their 20s and teens that still hang out and still go to basement shows. I think there's more of that here than a lot of other cities have, but it is definitely something that we've seen a lot and a general attitude that you sort of notice. Once again, it's not like we want to be the flag bearers of "Everyone must be crazy into punk rock!" but some of those attitudes can be frustrating when it's something that you care about and you participate in and you're standing around with all these people who don't feel the same way. It may be kind of childish but everyone's felt it.
I feel it every time I go out. All I see are 200 or 300 people behind me with their arms crossed.
Erik: Yeah. It's kind of like that. It's hard to be passionate about something and then look around and you always feel like people aren't as passionate as you and are sort of shitting on it, I guess. That song just sort of had the feel of a rallying cry kind of song.
I actually scrawled "Move with the rogue set" on this guy's pants in Fukuyama; he wanted me to sign his pants because we were drinking bourbon together.
Erik: In Fukuyama.
I think you guys played there, it was a little upstairs coffeehouse.
Erik: Yeah, yeah. It was a bar. Yeah, we played there.
Anyway, your songs were some of the only English these kids knew.
Erik: That rules. That's awesome. Yeah, we had a crazy show there. There was a fight and everything. It was the only fight we saw in Japan. People were just fucking hammered. Even Discount was hammered, they were on tour with us and they were fucking plowed. We got in a fight afterwards with each other because the guitar player was so drunk. We were training him well.
I saw the drunkest person I've ever seen in my life at that show.
Erik: We saw the drunkest guy we've ever seen in our lives. Jesus Christ. Maybe it's the city that never changes or something.
It may well be the same guy.
Erik: This guy, I gather that he owned the place, but he was incoherent, passed out, half-awake, sort of puking on himself right outside the front door.
It was kind of funny because I saw all this D4 graffiti everywhere.
Erik: Fuck man, we have to go back there so bad.
So what's next?
Erik: I don't know. We left Hopeless and the goal that we want to do, and we'll see how successful we are at it but we're starting with the No Idea thing, is that we'll basically be on a label like Hopeless for albums or something probably bigger now.
I heard you were talking about Fat or Epitaph?
Erik: Yeah, I think we're talking to Fat and Epitaph now and we're going to be talking Lookout! some. We're talking to a whole gamut, just a handful of labels that we've known for a while or known people at. One of those will be the label that we do our next full-length on but our main thing right now is that we're trying to do everything with one record deals. That was the only thing with Hopeless and it wasn't a bad thing, we agreed to it wholeheartedly at the time and we don't necessarily regret it, but it just occurred to us that there's no reason for us to tie ourselves to anything for more than one record because we have a lot of friends who do labels and it's just easier. It's going to be easier for us to do this No Idea thing, do an album with somebody where we only have a one record deal, even if that's where we stay from then on. We can just do each deal per record and that gives us a lot of freedom to put out records in between records with other people because there are so many labels that we're friends with and it just makes things less complicated. As far as what label we'll be on, I think there will be a label that people mostly associate us with, but we want to, more than ever, be on a variety of labels and have stuff coming out on all sorts of different labels so that's kind of our new goal. We want to be a little more prolific than we have been. It was two years between "Midwestern Songs" and "Versus God" with very little in between and we kind of want to fix that and get more stuff out there and not be so lazy.
So it sounds almost like you're taking the Hot Water Music route where you're doing various projects with various labels just to have the experience.
Erik: Yeah. I think so. There are just too many good labels out there, labels that we think are cool and labels that do good stuff and labels that we're friends with. It doesn't seem right to just restrict ourselves to one label for everything we're ever going to do. It's kind of boring when bands do that.
So what do you think the state of punk is right now? I realize that's a very general question.
Erik: I don't know. It's something I don't worry about too much anymore. I used to get really sort of bound up and worried about the way things were going and then I realized that it's not something that will go away. The character of it can change here and there and there will always be trends that I either think are kind of cool or think suck and wish would go away, but a lot of them do. A lot of them do come and go. I don't worry about it too much anymore. There are a lot of things that I think are different from a few years ago, like the first tours I ever went on were like '89 and '90 and back then, everything was in clubs or at least an organized sort of hall thing, and when D4 started, that was pretty much gone. In Minneapolis, it was just basements. We went on tour and we'd play 30 or 40 shows and maybe two clubs on the entire tour. I think now that's gotten harder. I know in Minneapolis, most of those houses are gone and everything's sort of back into clubs and the occasional DIY show space that starts up, but those are just so hard to keep your hands on that they can never last very long. I've started to notice that in other cities. I know a lot of cities that we've gone back to where there were three house or places that were doing shows to choose from, now they don't have any. They just have one club. That's kind of changed and I think that kind of says something. I think it says that people got what they wished for and maybe it wasn't such a great thing. I think everyone kind of wished for a steady space or a club that would let them do shows, and you need to be careful what you wish for because then people stop having the motivation to do their own thing. I don't know. This doesn't really answer the question, I suppose, but it's one observation.
Things always mean more when you fight for them.
Erik: Yeah. It's just people. After all these years of wishing we had a place to do all ages shows, we had one, a legit one, a café that did shows for a couple of years here and it was weird because that happened and within just a few months, house shows just sort of disappeared. Now, that place is closed and bands don't know what to do. They started in that place and they always had this real place with a real PA that they could always play and now it's gone. It still hasn't happened yet that they've realized, "Well shit, I guess we have to do this ourselves. I guess we have to go find a place to do shows or I guess we have to start doing shows in our basement again." It's like there is a generation of bands that haven't really figured that out yet because they didn't have to. Those things kind of suck, but everything just kind of cycles back and forth. It gets bigger, it gets smaller. It's getting smaller again now which is probably a good thing.
So the last question I have for you, and I admit that it's a total joke, but how many punks does it take to change a light bulb?
Erik: There are so many answers to that question. We throw out a bunch of them. What are some of the ones we use? 10. One to do it and nine to print t-shirts about it, or nine to do fanzines about it. None, punks never change anything. There are a bunch of them. I can't remember. How many skinheads does it take to wallpaper a bathroom?
Erik: One if you slice him up real thin. I love that one. I was drunk as hell in Buffalo last summer on my birthday and I was wasted and I told that joke into the mike, totally not knowing there were a few burly fucking skinheads in the back who apparently weren't too pleased but I somehow managed to escape unscathed. I think other people kind of got me out of there before I started any conversations with them because I mean nobody no harm. I just thought it was a funny joke.
So who was the motherfucker with the banana?
Erik: Paddy was the motherfucker with the banana. It was the show in Denver and we had all this fruit backstage and Paddy took a banana and winged it at the crowd and the minute we got done playing, the sound guy gets up onstage, big fucking dude, and he yells at Patrick, "Are you that motherfucker with the banana?" I guess it winged back and hit the soundboard. I don't think it actually hit the sound board, I think it came close but he just freaked out on Patrick and it was so funny, just hearing those words of this dude's mouth. The first thing he said, "Are you that motherfucker with the banana?" Paddy's like, "I don't know, what are you talking about?" He goes, "You're never playing here again!" and Patrick says, "No shit." That was it but what was awesome was Falling Sickness got onstage afterwards and Gabe, their singer, ran back and grabbed all these apples and then came out and started winging apples into the crowd and gets on the mike and goes, "How do you like them apples?"
Anything else you'd like to add?
Erik: I should probably say something about Hopeless. Any time a band leaves a label, people start to assume things about the label or whatever.
Or assume the worst about the band.
Erik: Right. I just want to clear that up. It's sort of my campaign. The label didn't screw us over in any way. It's purely a moving on thing and we want to try different things. We're still good friends with the people at that label, we still think they do a really good job, we're still really happy that they have our first two records. This isn't the start of some weird thing that you're going to read about in Maximum Rocknroll in a year where we're trying to sue them for the masters or anything. We have a very good relationship with them and they're a very good label. There. That's pretty much what I wanted to say, any place I can get that printed.