August 14, 2001
AN INTERVIEW WITH THOMAS BARNETT OF STRIKE ANYWHERE: BY ROBB ROEMERSHAUSER
I tried a few times doing an interview with Strike Anywhere before. The first time, I was in Richmond Virginia for an hour and found out that Avail, Anna Beretta and Strike Anywhere was playing a show the following day at Twisters. So, I decided to stick around Richmond for the night. I wrote some questions down to ask Strike Anywhere the night before the show, and then I fell asleep in someoneâ€™s backyard. Woke up, tape recorder was broken, and must of broke from me using the backpack as a pillow. I saw someone, I knew the following day that had an info shop in RVA and look around and slight see around the city and went to the show. Saw the bands, rock out and went falling a sleep in a portalet later on in the morning (It was a cold night for a short sleeve, no jacket kind of person.). Oh yeah, there was an reunion of a few songs that ex members of a band that called themselves Inquisition at one time played. Yes, I did know the words to those songs but not the title names. That was in April or May of 2000. So, I heard they were coming to play in New Orleans and a few months before the show at 3 am I wrote these questions. I wouldnâ€™t have asked all these questions, because some are so dumb. But the thing was when they played here, there was a tropical storm passing through the city and they didnâ€™t wanted to sit in the rain, I guess? Being the geek I am, I had these type questions & a self-address stamp envelope on me at the time. I wasnâ€™t planning on using it for this, the interview, I guess. So, I ask him and a few months pass and I got these answers. Itâ€™s funny because when I was reading these questions it just dawn on me that I did do an interview with Thomas before. It was a few years ago when he was in another band. 150 to 170 interviews can do that too you with a short attention span. All I can say about this band, that I bought two records this year of 01â€™, one being Strike Anywhere, â€˜Change is a Soundâ€ and the other is the last Aus-Rotten record. Here Thomas, the voice of a social revolution. (I was being very much sarcastic about that comment and it was more of a funny joke. But, punk rock has never had a social revolution before and pro=
bably never will be one.
Thomas had this to say about my comment, â€œI am not remotely the voice of social revolution. I couldn't win a political argument with one of my dogs and they're all Libertarians or any other educated active person. Two qualities that which I don't often posses. I have had the good fortune to meet many amazing and intelligent folks who've introduced me to great ideas hidden under the stale flesh of our mainstream culture. I've listened as intently as I could to dear friends and comrades who've created wonderful music and writings over the years, and lived through brutal, senseless events only to come out with more energy and positively than I could ever predict. I try not to forget these kindness, although I feel like I do constantly and maybe by being involved in this musical group with these talented individuals. I could if I was very lucky reflect out some of the energy and passion I was given throughout the course of my life and pay back the inspiration of others far more worthy of your complimentsâ€.
Robb Roemershauser: How did Strike Anywhere get there start, and youâ€™ll only been around for around a year an haft now? Some of the members were in other bands at the time when the band came together.
Thomas Barnett: Strike Anywhere started when the five of us agree on the name and played our played our first show, two years ago this month. Previous to that and Matt Smith started writing 6 songs with words Iâ€™d written in the interim period between Inquisition and Strike Anywhere. Matt Smith then helped us find
Garth, our bass player and Eric - our drummer who was in the Exploder not at the same time as Matt Smith, but a year before. Garth is still in CountXMeXOut (has one full-length record on Indecision records) and Matt Smith is now in a new band called the Liarâ€™s Academy (they will have a full-length record coming out on Equal Vision in November) which includes members of Cross My Heart. We played out â€˜Change Is A Soundâ€™ record release shows of the past two weekends with both bands - it was a family thing for all the bands.
Robb: Did it have something to do with that Thomas wanted to sing again, and want to go back to what his old band sound like? Strike Anywhere does resemble Inquisition a little bit, but not that much. Because those other members went, form Anna Beretta, Sixer, to Clash for a run and another band River City High.
Thomas: I donâ€™t think that I consciously ever thought Iâ€™d be in another band. Matt Sherwood and I were hanging around each other. Writing songs and then other haft-interested souls started to gather - Matt Smith, Garth & Eric helped inspire and put together the sound and ideaâ€™s equally with us. I think that Strike Anywhereâ€™s influences and roots may be similar to my old bands. Oddly enough, the Inquisition song â€˜Strike Anywhereâ€™, maybe the closest sonic cousin to our music - structurally and lyrically. But we are doing our best to push the sound forward. Iâ€™ve heard a theory recently that was amusing - if you mix Sixer, Ann Beretta, and River City High with Strike Anywhere you get Inquisition! (?).
Robb: You do use the circle three arrows as Inquisition did previous that means liberty, equality and solidarity. Which means fighting against fascism of course.
Thomas: The anti-fascist circle has been around for a long time. We broke it out to emphasize the need for imagery in the underground, which would resonate with the resurgence of anti-corporate globalization activism present in the world. Fascism takes on many faces and we feel that keeping up the culture of resistance ideas and adding our small voice to it is a part of this hardcore punk rock than fuck the IMF, and the G-8.
Robb: I understand. Your first record if I am not mistaking was it the demo or the comp. with a few songs of other Virginia area bands that also had a few Anna Beretta songs on it?
Thomas: Our first release was the demo recorded at the BWE house in Charlottesville, VA and the two songs on the Richmond Rouletteâ€™ comp. were taken from the same session. For a full, detailed catalog of our releases, please check out our website: www.strikeanywhere.org
Robb: â€œChorus of Oneâ€ the EP have taking great leaps for Strike Anywhere. Of, course the live aspect has something to do with it. I remember I was helping someone out a few years ago not sure why with a record he put out by Dillinger Escape Plan. It took me a few years to see them live after hearing about them way too much and then understand why people like them a lot. Anyway, is that somewhat the same reaction you have gotten from the record, be overwhelmed from the reaction from people?
Thomas: We have been delighted and honored by peopleâ€™s attention and exuberance at our shows. We get excited when people sing along, and it fuels our energy. Iâ€™m not sure how that relates to the sales of our record. I know weâ€™ve toured a whole bunch and that a lot of the times when folks have bought the â€˜Chorus of Oneâ€™ ep it was at one of our shows. We totally believe in the punk rock tradition of everybody band and audience - blurring. Then smashing the .lines of separation and just having a big sing-a-long party.
Robb: â€œChorus of Oneâ€ not to sound like a kiss up or something. I was total broke for a four years paying a bank a loan from being sued from this fanzine and only 6 months with a job in that time. I thought last year it wasnâ€™t worth it anymore punk rock for me after fourteen years being a supporter of it that left me with nothing. Going to shows was out of the question from the result of it. The only two things I look forward in life were taking from me. I thought the state of punk/ hardcore was being taking over by corporations (okay, I was being asked many times by corporations to do stuff in the name of the fanzine, that I wasnâ€™t interested in doing.) and not too many sincerity, passion bands where playing these days. I thought lots bands were being feeblest and stuff. I thought in the city I lived metal was taking over punk rock and it was about dead. The only record I bought in a span of two and haft years was â€œChorus of Oneâ€ because it was cheap and I like Inquisition. Every time I heard the EP, it inspired me to get off my feet not on a musical level more on a lyrical standpoint. To overcome being sued and being taken advanced. It uplifted and inspired deeply and I thank you. If it werenâ€™t for music, I probably would have gone insane. Have people told stories of being effect so deeply within Strike Anywhere, that you came close to crying from hearing a compelling story, not the one from me?
Thomas: Thank you for listening to us and for being a part of this movement for the 14 years you have. Sometimes it gets hard justifying the time spent on punk .and the selling of its spirit to the commodified world. We have met some fantastic, inspiring people in our short band life span. You are certainly one of them, Robb for, overcoming the senseless aggression of greedy people and keepinâ€™ on with your ways and your vision. Weâ€™ve shared stores with many people, and once had the privilege to invite a young man in Pensacola, FL to sing with us as a tribute and memorial to a deceased friend. He sang our song, â€œAntidoteâ€ with is, and the world room got to help him grieve.
Robb: Has Richmond, VA been an influence in your music? I know its your environment you live in, and take in and breath, because Richmond, VA seems to have a deep rooted history all the way to the Civil War and the Confederated Flag. Your band seems to be proud of where you live and donâ€™t seem to be embarrassed of where you come from. Because RVA, does have a long deep history of great bands that came from that town.
Thomas: Richmond is a city filled with contradictions of culture and purpose. Poverty has a grid on many and apathy over almost all. Its got unique qualities to it, but like many southern cities are torn apart by the magnetism of civil war history and the controversy of its upkeep. We have been very sporadically involved with the Coalition for the Living Wage. An organization devoted to agitating legislation to establish policy for all state and city workers to receive a living wage of $8.50/ hour on all contracted and subcontracted jobs. The intensity of out tour schedule over the past two years has lifted us away from the day to day sub-politics of the radical activist cleaves, but we try to use our influences as an entertainment commodity to expose the ideas and purpose behind our songs. Many animal rights groups, anarchy isis of many flavors and general Richmond radical culture architects use our shows to table, speak and teach. We have spent great times with our fellow Richmond punks - great, inspiring bands and colorful, uncompromising people. For example, in October of this year, we hope to play and acoustic show with Adam Againstâ€™s Folk band â€˜Tear Gas Rockâ€™ to benefit a womenâ€™s shelter in RVA. Oh yeahâ€¦There will not be an acoustic Strike Anywhere presence at the Tear Gas Rock plus Denali, and eight other groups. Hanover Women's Shelter Benefit on Oct. 20th. Perhaps maybe in early December it might happen. If everything goes well in Europe we may play an All Ages show at Alley Katz and invite Tear Gas Rock to play with us. Described to me by Marty Violence as 'sorta like the Young Pioneers but with more Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions to it '.
Robb: Your first tour you went around the United States with As Friends Rust. Then Hot Water Music, Alkaline Trio for awhile. Hot Water Music, Avail tour must have given you a lot of exposure to a lot of people that never heard the band before. You just tour the south a bit with Avail, Anna Beretta, not to long ago. Was it something when Strike Anywhere got together and you decided to tour, you want to be a support group with other well-know, more albums release bands. To have a bigger crowd or something, instead of working from the bottom up with you only touring. Is that something you wanted to do with the band at first was to tour with well-know bands to get more exposure than Strike Anywhere, touring by themselves with not to many people at the shows, or something?
Thomas: Hmmmâ€¦I would have to say that our decisions about touring were not crafted by any short of ambitions band strategy. We toured first down south with our Friends Violence takes Refuge in Virtue (now R.I.P), and later spent June/ July of 2000 with As Friends Rust, by their gracious invention, for first U.S. tour. Weâ€™ve played many, many basements and house shows since and have no plans to stop. We have friendships with Hot Water Music and Avail, and through our connections with them, we came, to play ten days each of their â€˜Never Ender and â€˜One Wrenchâ€™ tours. These were fun, friendly times, but since them weâ€™ve toured by ourselves or with similar sized bands of friends and enjoyed it all very much. We donâ€™t have any intention of abandoning the independent ethic, and our travels will continue with all kinds of other bands, both established and newborn.
Robb: I know your playing some weekend shows on the upper part of the east coast now with Count me Out with a member thatâ€™s in Strike Anywhere. I guess it feels good to get out on the weekend, from working or going to school all week and look forward to doing something, you enjoy a lot more. When I saw you in Richmond, you pretty much blew the other bands after words out the building.
Thomas: We traveled up to Eastern Canada with CountxMexOut; it was an awesome time - our bassist did double-duty as CountxMexOutâ€™s guitar player. Itâ€™s always interesting and a little scary going to Canada - the borders its unpredictable, but once you get in - we were also grateful and stoked that CountxMexOut came! (Laughing) Also got to see the lovely, progressive cities of London, Ottawa, and Montreal. Yes, its certainly more meaningful to each of us to play our songs and travel than to work back in Richmond, but we also miss our loved ones a great deal while on tour.
Robb: I want to ask if you a question if donâ€™t mind answer it. I guess a lot of labels saw dollar signs in their pockets before the band priorities were. It must of gotten bad at some point and I can just imaging how many labels wanted to release your first full length album. Was it getting somewhat bad at a point, record labels wanted to release your first record and who else were interested in releasing your first full-length record? If you donâ€™t mind saying?
Thomas: We spoke with several friends in other labels, and in other bands before deciding to work with Jade Tree. The particular climate at the time in the independent music scene seemed frantic and although we hadnâ€™t toured in anyway. The attention of fat wreck chords was captured from having our songs up on our friend Pablos Pheer.com website. They asked us to participate in the singles of the month club. We are content with the relationship we have, and especially grateful to No Idea records for distributing our LP so thoroughly. Essentially our decision to work with Jade Tree stemmed from their friendships, no pressure independence and their relationship as individuals to each of us.
Robb: Yeah, Jade Tree records where you went, I was talking to the singer of Zero Zero and ex- singer of Lifetime a few weeks ago on a train. He was sitting next to me on my right side and he canâ€™t wait for his band full length to come out on Jade Tree records. (Funny thing is, I saw that record for sale in his store and posters on the wall after it came out, a few months ago.) Did Jade Tree foresee the mission of Strike Anywhere with good vision?
Thomas: Yes, we are very excited to soon be playing Plea for Peace shows with Zero Zero. I think that Jade Treeâ€™s proximity to our home and the goals they have are far as diversity and autonomy for their bands resonate strongly with us. We are pleased with how through they are and that their vision of what is passionate, underground, radical music isnâ€™t limited to one sound that sells well. People should look back to the earliest sonic and lyrical periods of punk to reconnect with the depth, diversity, and potential of music - at once pinpricks of intensity in the face of status quo's staleness, and also vulnerable and soul filled poems of the â€˜common peopleâ€™ reflected in uncommon lights. I personally feel that only a handful of labels or artists in punk culture today understand this, and we have been privileged to work with some of them. Now our up coming tour with the Asian Man/ Sub City/ Plea for Peace/ Take Action collective of bands, labels, and mental health activists will further our goals to add our voice to the inspiring, positive evolving underground which has saved each of our lives at different times. More than music!
Robb: Are you sure when you might be recording your first full length and when it might be out? I know people are looking forward to hearing the record a lot and are your going the same direction as â€œChorus the One â€œ EP musically and are your pretty much finish with nailing down all the songs are done yet?
Thomas: â€˜Change is a Soundâ€™ has been out for a month now, and I hope that folks enjoy it. It is the product of a lot of hard work and fun and itâ€™s the best we can give yâ€™all. I think itâ€™s a bit more diverse in sound than the ep, we got a chance to pull together a few more challenging songs and also ones which further our ideas relating personal struggles to social imbalances and cultural contradictions.
Robb: Would you mind saying what are a few of the titles of the new record going to be?
Thomas: Youâ€™re Fired, Refusal, Sunset on 32ND, Chalkline, Laughter in a Police State, S.S.T., (For the motto of the Common Earth of Virginia â€˜sic semper tyrannisâ€™ = â€˜thus always to tyrantsâ€™ the irony is rich!), and other titles as well!
Robb: I donâ€™t know if this came out yet, I donâ€™t belong to the Fat records single club. But, anyway, what are the names of the songs that appear on the 7â€ and which month do you know of it will come out? Are those two songs (?) going to be use on the full length or is it just exclusive to the Fat club singles?
Thomas: The two songs we put on the Fat single of the month (July.2001) Were newly recorded versions of â€˜Asleepâ€™ and â€˜Antidoteâ€™ which were on our demo, and many, many compilations. We donâ€™t know if we will re-recorded them for a future release. Although the demo version of â€˜Antidoteâ€™ will appear on an upcoming European seven-inch on Scene Police records, out of Germany. The demoâ€™s of â€˜Chorus of Oneâ€™, â€˜Sunspottingâ€™, and â€˜Antidoteâ€™ will be pressed on a record, proceeds of which will go in part to the relief for imprisoned activists and victims of the G-8 World Bank police riots.
Robb: If you never find out about punk rock music, what would you see yourself doing with your life if punk rock never leak in your body?
Thomas: Its hard to theorize about this, â€˜cause punkâ€™s initial influence in each of our lives was probably multifaceted and intensely individual. The self-esteem battery of punk and its inspiration are threads in our current lives of music-making and travelling, no doubt, but good friendships, honest communication, and courage in thought and speech can give anybodyâ€™s life the shot in the arm of hope and energy that punk provides us with. The struggle for meaning in oneâ€™s life & the fight for faith and uplifting without repressing the voices of others are each not the exclusive property of our subculture. As you know, Iâ€™d probably be into more art, history, hip-hop, and going camping or something. More often- I think punk and hardcore can give us the tools to sort out our place in the urban or city-dependent commodified world- the natural world has its own circuitry - infinitely more inspiring and varied than the confines of our western society and culture. It not that each of us would pursue the arts a little harder in punk rockâ€™s absence, searching for a language of love & liberation.
Robb: Is Strike Anywhere planning on sticking around for awhile is you in it for the long run? Of course you never know what can be in stored the following week?
Thomas: I hope we can still enjoy writing and playing our songs for many years. But, I know that we will strive to end it with grace and on time if the bands natural lifespan comes to an end. We hope to keep it rollinâ€™ for a bit longer, certainly.
Robb: Is there anything else you would like to mention thatâ€™s going on with Strike Anywhere that I donâ€™t know of at this point of time? Thank you so much for taking so much time answering these questions. Take care and I hope you have a good week or did.
Thomas: Ladies and gentlemen, punks, mods and skins, Robb Roemershauser. an amazing man of intense commitment from New Orleans, who did in fact stand out in , not just the rain, but a tropical storm, and try to interview us as we watched the streets flood quickly and without remorse. I'm shocked and amazed that we made it out of the Big Easy without gills that night. On the news the next day, they said that the rain brought missing dead bodies out of their hiding places. Hallowe'en style. Thank you for your time Robb! Good luck with everything in New Orleans and the uncertain future ahead. We hope to still go to Europe in October. We will be there until December 6th and we will be playing songs all over the old-world and we won't be taking it to Spain, Baltics, Hungary, France, Romania, Ireland, Greece, and Russia. So it's gonna be Scandinavia, The UK, some Low Countries, Switzerland, Italy, and a whole lot of Germany. Get motherfuckin' ready. Get As Friends Rust's new LP 'WON' on Doghouse Records, it will blow your mind and change the way you see your own face/life. Oh yes! After that, who knows? You may see us in January w/ Anna Beretta. , But we will be playing everything by ear. Take Care, and be safe!
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