Here is an interview I did for the Punk Fiction (France). From February 2011. You can view the interview here:
Evacuate Paris Show
Hi Mike !Wassup in San Diego? How are you ?
Can’t complain, things are good and I am doing well. Thank you for asking.
First, although u’re famous in the street-punk movement, can you introduce yourself? What does bring you to this movement? What were your influences at this time (musical, political or anything else)
Sure, my name is Mike. I grew up on the eastern United States coast in a city called Philadelphia. I am a software developer who also happens to play in a punk rock band. I never strived to be ‘famous’. I am just very passionate about what I believe in, and am very driven to have a say and to have fun while doing it. I believe in punk rock. It has gotten me through the thick and thin time and time again, and I also believe in giving back. I feel that if you are going to be part of the punk scene you should do your part to give back to the scene and not just take. Start a zine, start a band, put on shows, run a distro. Just do something. This is how the punk scene has always survived and this is how it will survive in the future. This is one of the main messages I try to get across with my music. To give back and not just take. Especially these days when a lot of kids think you just hit a button on a computer and magically all this free shit just someone shows up for you to take. There is a lot of work involved and the kids really need to understand the work involved to produce these things. Personally I am influenced by surroundings, and my experiences. I try to learn from my past mistakes, or the mistakes I have seen others make. I also try to stay very current on what is going on in the news. I would say personal experience and the news have the greatest influence on my lyrics. When writing an album I try to capture the times. A document of what was going on in the world while the album was being made. For example when I was in Cheap Sex we put out an album called ‘Launch off To War” Those songs were written right after 9/11. It completely captures the times. I think a good record not only captures the band, but captures a place in time. It brings you back to those days and the emotions of the time.
U’re now playing in EVACUATE, before we talk about it, could we do a “back to the future” sequence? You played before in the VIRUS, could you explain us why you leave the band around 2002 ?
Sure. While I was playing in the Virus I was working for an aerospace company. It was a good job. I had posted my resume online just to see what else was out there, and a San Diego, California based company saw it and contacted me. They flew me out to California, and after meeting with them they made me a job offer that was too good to pass up. They paid for my moving expenses completely, and offered me more than twice what I was making in Philadelphia. Also I spent my whole life in Philadelphia and was looking for a change, and also I was looking forward to the weather in California. Leaving The Virus was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make, but I spent many years in school, and my career is just as important to me as the bands that I play in. I knew I would start a new band once I moved to California, for me, I think I made the right decision. I also knew that Paul would be taking over on vocals and I felt good about that.
Do you realize the impact the band still have?
Yes I am aware that The Virus still has an impact and I am extremely grateful for The Virus fans. The Virus will always be an important part of my life and I feel a very close bond to the fans. I am honoured whenever someone comes up to me and tells me that the band had some impact on their lives, because for me that was the main reason I was doing it.
Then you were involved in CHEAP SEX, which is also well famous. Why is this adventure over too? I think, that a lot of people, like us, talk with you about your former bands, do you mind speaking about it ? Or it pleases you?
I don’t mind speaking about my former bands at all. CHEAP SEX broke up after Chris (CHEAP SEX former guitarist) killed himself. We were all very close to Chris. Gabe our drummer was Chris’s best friend. They grew up together. We were so devastated at the time we just did not feel like continuing. Cheap Sex was at its peak when we broke up, and we wanted to leave on a high note. Our minds were just so fucked up after Chris died that we thought it would be better to quit at our peak then drag things out when we weren’t focused. We did however reform to play a single show to help promote a DVD that documented the history of the band. The show sold out in 2 days. It was a great show and we played for 2 hours. I am sure CHEAP SEX from time to time will play a show here and there because we are all still great friends and love the music we made together. I believe very much in bands breaking up at their peak. Too many bands put out a few good records and then slowly deteriorate and put out crap. I think one of the abilities I have is to know when it is time to move on. I am sure if the Chris thing didn’t happen our minds would have still been focused and we could have continued and had fun, but with that whole incident it just did not feel right – especially for Gabe.
To continue in the chronology, you funded EVACUATE with some former members of CHEAP SEX. You couldn’t live without playing in a band ? RANCID sings in a song (from their last album) : punk-rock is my religion. Is it you creed tool ? Does your resume in the punk-rock movement helps you new band to emerge?
As long as I continue to have fun playing in bands I will continue to do so. Punk Rock is in my blood and has been a major part of my life since 1986. I am 37 years old and I still get asked to show my ID when I go to bars in the US. I think the reason I look younger than my age is because I still have fun. Punk Rock keeps me young.
What are the differences between your former bands and EVACUATE ?
I think that Evacuate has a little bit more of an 80s American Hardcore influence. Evacuate is very diverse. We have some songs that sound like pure street punk and others that sound more like early US hardcore. Our songs are very diverse and have a lot of different influences. It is very hard to pigeon hole Evacuate into one particular genre other ‘punk rock’.
You released a selft-titled in 2008, how are the feedbacks?
The first LP received very good reviews and so did the ‘Endless War’ 7”.
In the album, you sing about hardcore. What is hardcore and hardcore movement for you ? Have do you mix it with street-punk sound?
When I sing about hardcore I am singing about old school classic hardcore. The hardcore that was being made in the early to mid 1980s. There are some great bands today that have that sound and spirit, but a lot of it has gone. I grew up on this music and this is what I am singing about in “What Happened to Hardcore?” I have always loved classic punk rock and 80s hardcore so when forming Evacuate I thought it would be great to figure out a way to mix the two. When listening to a record, I think it makes for a more interesting listener experience to not just have one consistent sound throughout the whole record. Mixing the early hardcore sound with classic punk rock works well, and I think that is what makes Evacuate.
Your lyrics deal often with political and social topics. What are the things that make you angry and pissed off ?
Lack of concern your fellow man/woman. Poor and irresponsible decision making. Not looking 5 years ahead before you act. Not thinking about the long term, short cited decisions based on short term returns.
We met us in France in a lil’ chinese restaurant. U’re were going to play in the squat “La Miroiterie”, how do find this event? The crowd ? U’ve gotta know, the french kids (and also adults !) were very impatient to see you and your band, coz u’re quite a legend here !
I loved playing that show. It was one of my favourite on tour. The crowd was great, and very friendly. I very much look forward to playing France again in the near future. I am also a fan of Frech Punk rock. The first French record I ever bought was “A mort, à fond!” by Trotskids.
It was a tour accross some european countries with MAD PIGS, how was relationship with them? What countries did you go ? Did you have enough time to visit a little bit?
Tour was great. MAD PIGS are great friends. We had a blast! We played 17 European cities in many countries..Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, and of course France.
Have you some anecdotes about it ? (Be sure I asked it to MAD PIGS too haha !)
It was a great time. We got to see some great cities, and met a lot of really cool people. A lot of late nights partying and drinking good beer. Many things that I am grateful have not turned up on YouTube. The bands had a lot of fun together and really bonded.
What are the differences between the europeans punk movement. And then, the differences between europeans and americans ?
I think that there are a lot of young kids at shows in America. It is more all ages based. I think the punks in Europe for the most part are a little older. We do have 21+ bar shows here but a completely different crowd will be a those shows. You do not have the same people who go to the all ages shows going to the 21+ shows. Right now in America a lot of people will come out to see a popular band play, but will stay home and watch YouTube videos instead of coming out to see a smaller band.
Punk Rock is always closed to politics, how is the situation in USA with Obama? I’m not sure he could do so many things, ‘coz his party is to close and financed by the financial sector…
Personally I think punks for the most part like Obama better than they liked George W. Bush, who in my mind was one of the worst if not THE worst president in US history. I think Obama is at least trying to repair some of the damaged relations throughout the world incurred during the 8 long destructive years of the Bush Administration. Unfortunately Americans love a quick fix to their problems. They are used to being served their food quick (McDonalds), they are used clicking buttons and having things at their disposal, and are using to getting everything quick, and hassle free. Therefore they expected Obama to fix all the disasters occurred under Bush during his first month in office…Ain’t gonna happen. The deficit, the damaged relations, and everything else will take years and years to fix. And we are still pissing away our money fighting these wars that will never be won because if we pulled out now it would lead to even more disaster.
Why did you fund Evacuate records? To keep the DIY spirit? What allows you this independence? Is the label, or you band involved locally?
I started the label to try to be less dependent on record labels. Have more control and also keep money within the band rather than have the record label give us a dollar while they kept nine, etc. We ended up working with other labels like Joe Pogo for the LP and Voltage for the ep and they have both been great.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind (Free Association) with the words below?
Is cheap sex a virus ? !!!
If you don’t wrap your dick up it certainly could be.
Amazing. Great people! Wish I had more time there!
Great band, and great friends. I fucking love those guys.
I am not religious however I respect those who are as long as they do not force their beliefs on everyone else. For example if you think gay people will go to hell for being gay because you read it somewhere in the bible, then keep that shit to yourself. No one wants to hear your hate speech. There are enough problems in the world.
Love it. Perfect mix of aggression while still having melody. To me what makes a great song is if it sticks in your head. If it is something you would hum along to. It makes the song memorable. So street punk is great because it has aggression to it but the songs are also catchy. A lot of people think that street punk songs are about beer, spiky hair and partying. This is not true. Sure some bands sing about that stuff but there are plenty who do not. There are street punk bands out there with very intelligent lyrics. I think streetpunk has an unfair stereotype attached to it.
I really do enjoy my career. I have always been interested in problem solving and software design, and software development lends itself perfectly to these interests. I really would like to see more punks go to school and set goals for themselves and have a career. There is no reason to think that in order to be a punk you need to drink all day and eat out of the trash. Punk means doing what you want, and independence. Set goals for yourself. Get out there and do it. Collecting welfare and asking for handouts is not independence.
We should have been off of oil a long time ago (as an energy source). The only reason we are still using oil as an energy source is because certain people make a lot of money by us thinking it is still necessary. There are so many alternatives that there is just no reason other than pure greed. There are other used for oil that I think are still necessary (used to make plastic) etc.
An embarrassing shit stain on the history of the United States. I knew it was a fraud from day one.
Are there any questions that you wish I would have asked? Or NOT asked?
Look out for a new EVACUATE LP Summer of 2011. Thank you very much! I really look forward to playing France again and having more time to meet you all!
Now, now it’s your turn to ask me one question.
In your opinion what is the best French beer? What is the best French wine?