Interview with Comadre originally published in Bulgarian language in the second issue of my zine Tigersuit.
Let’s start with an introduction to your band. Who are you and why form the band? Why did you choose the name Comadre and what kind of ideas do you want to share with your music and message?
Juan and I used to be in a band called Heartcrosslove. Jack and Steven used to be in a band called One’s Own Ruin. Our two bands played many shows together back in the day, and it just so happened that our 2 bands decided to break up around the same time. So when that happened, we kinda just got together and started talking about jamming. Wes had been Steven’s best friend for years, so that is how we got to know him. So we asked him to play drums, and at our first practice, it went very well, and we wrote the first Comadre song “Mess With The Best, Undress Like The Rest”. Juan and I are actually brothers. And Jack and Steven are also brothers. So “Comadre”, being that a term meaning a relationships between people that may (or may not) be a family bound by blood. But, more 2 people (or a group of people) that consider themselves a family. So the 5 of us started Comadre, and we will be the 5 who end it. This is a family and there will never be any different members in Comadre. As far as other ideas and messages, we just want to be as creative as possible and be positive, and most importantly, just have fun with our friends.
You’re touring a lot and you were again in Europe this summer. What happened on this tour, what are your thoughts on festivals like Cry Me A River and Fluff Fest and what’s your craziest adventure from summer 2010?
This past tour in Europe was probably the best tour we have ever done. All the shows were awesome, well attended, fun, and just over all successful. Our buddy Marc from Trainwreck/Glasses booked the whole tour for us and Punch, and he did an AMAZING job with it (especially because it was his first time booking a tour for another band). CMAR Fest was the best way to start the tour; we played it 2 years ago, and it was one of the best shows we’ve ever played. And again, this time around, it was one of the best shows we’ve ever played. Lars does a great job with that, and it is awesome to get to see the same smiling faces we saw last time we played. As far as craziest adventure/story from that tour, I would say that it was to get to play Fluff Fest, heh. That was definitely the biggest show Comadre has ever played. There were tons of people, from all over the world, and from all over shows that we had played earlier on the tour. That was the last show of the tour, and it was a perfect ending to an already successful tour. We got to see all of our friends and people we met on that tour in the same place and have some fun.
There was this sign “Siq Shit” at Fluff Fest and I’m really curious to ask Kenny about these “Siq Shit” photography, the siq shit blog…
I started my SIQ SHIT blog last time we were in Europe, during the summer of 2008. I just wanted to start a blog (mainly a photography blog) to put up a bunch of photos from the tour. I honestly did it because my mom is always interested in seeing what we are doing (and making sure we are still alive, hah). So yeah, I didn’t really think too many other people were gonna start checking it out as well. But they did; and other people liked it too. So fuck yeah, I am stoked that I know a good amount of kids check that blog daily and like the shit that’s on there.
If I’m not mistaken, you were arrested in Copenhagen during the riots for Ungdomshuset squat in 2007 at your first European tour ever. Is this the only time when you got into troubles with the police while on tour? And do you think that punk can really be a threat to the system and express relevant political ideas?
We were arrested there in Copenhagen, but we definitely were not arrested for anything remotely cool or involving with the protests that were going on. So yeah, I don’t wanna come off as saying we were a part of the protests or anything like that. What happened is that we were just passing through Copenhagen while on tour and we were at the wrong spot at the wrong time. There were a bunch of police that saw us, and because we looked “alternative”, they thought we were there for the protests, and arrested us. Hah, we didn’t do anything cool like burn down police cars or shit like that. I wish we had a cooler arrest/police story, but that’s it. And I personally believe that punk IS a threat to the system and can definitely help express relevant political ideas. The only thing is, you gotta take this ideas and bring them OUT of punk to really make a statement. It doesn’t always do that much help when you are talking to other punk/hardcore kids about it; it is like talking to other kids that already know what you are saying and believe it too (for the most part). To really make a statement (I think), is to take that shit out of the punk/hardcore community and make it known outside of our world.
What does it mean to “rebuild the love and take back the sound”? Do you think the passion and the real hardcore/punk exist only in the spirit of DIY?
I believe when Juan wrote these lyrics a few years ago, he meant to say that the whole punk scene was veering off to a wrong direction; maybe too much violence, macho-type shit, people trying to show other people up and out “punk/hardcore” them. It’s about remembering that we (the punk/hardcore) kids are in this shit together and sometimes we are all that we have. So why fight against each other? Remember the whole reason why we got involved in punk/hardcore, to be unified as a community. And I’m not too sure about the other question…I have seen and experienced a lot of non-DIY punk/hardcore bands, and for the most part, they suck A LOT. Bunch of people whose thoughts are in the wrong places, a bunch of people whose love to be in a band are for the wrong reasons, a bunch of people who don’t appreciate the small things that in the DIY sense are what keeps me LOVING punk/hardcore.
It seems you have a very strong connection with the DIY scene in Germany. Is this the best scene for the type of music that you’re playing?
Europe in general has an amazing DIY community. From people who play in bands, who set up shows/tours, to people who put out records, to people who are just active in their community; it is amazing and inspiring to see. So yeah, Europe has its shit down on lock. That is not to say that the U.S. doesn’t have some awesome DIY communities, because it does. There are a lot of people who bust their asses here too. But yeah, maybe it’s because when we come to Europe, we are kinda lost little kids in the hands of other people, so it seems like they really really take good care of us when we are there.
The kids in Bulgaria like to use terms like “emo” or “screamo” to describe the sound of bands like Comadre, because if you say “punk” they’re thinking of bands like Casualties. What do you think of all these labels and do you think you have the moral right to describe yourself as a punk band or you’re just some fucking emos? Ha-Ha!
Labels are kinda whack. I always describe our band as a punk band. People can call us whatever the hell they want, heh, it’s all good with us. But when I see it, we are all a bunch of punks to the rest of society, so yeah, punk it is.
There is real brotherhood in Comadre, so I guess you’re spending a lot of time together. It’s interesting to hear more about the lives of the individuals in Comadre, what about your daily jobs, crazy obsessions and so on? Do you like to read? I heard Kenny is a librarian, how many books he has read in his life, haha? Also, what about some of the things that are more connected to hardcore/punk like tattoos or skateboarding? Are any of you into lifestyles like veganism or straight edge?
Yeah, we all hangout pretty often together which is really cool. We live pretty close to each other, so that helps as well. And it’s good to do things outside of “band” world where we don’t talk or think about Comadre. It definitely helps with the overall friendship of the band. As far as personal shit, I work at a library and also a homeless shelter. I got my college degree for Sociology. And my obsessions consist of: the internet, blogs, taking pictures, riding bikes, and hip hop.
Juan works as a high-school teacher. He got his college degree for English/Writing. His obsessions are: drawing, writing, bikes, and other random shit.
Jack owns and works at his recording studio. He got his college degree for Art. His obsessions are definitely recording stuff and he is a gear-nerd; loves to get a hold of new equipment for Comadre and for his studio.
Steven works as a middle-school math teacher. He got his college degree for Math. His obsessions are: movies, anything to do with math, he recently got married, and he runs the Bloodtown Records.
Wes works as a nanny for a kid and also at a front desk to this food company. His obsessions are: skateboarding, video making/editing, metal music, and all things related to stoner-rock.
We got some vegans, we got some vegetarians, some of us drink and smoke, and some of us don’t.
Not a long ago I did an interview with Martin Sorrondeguy from Los Crudos/Limp Wrist and we were talking a bit about the Latino punk scene in the USA. Which are your favorite Latino hardcore/punk bands or bands with Latino members in them? Are you trying to reach a part of the Hispanic/Latino/Chicano crowd with Comadre? Also, do you like playing in Mexico and how’s the scene there?
You know what, I’m not that much educated with the Latino punk scene in the U.S. I mean, I guess I know some Latin kids who play in some hardcore/punk bands, but not sure if there is a distinctive Latino punk scene (that I am aware of). I definitely like the fact that there have been some kids who have come up to us speaking Spanish and enjoying the fact that 2/5 of us are Latin and can speak Spanish. I am glad that we can connect to people like that. And yeah, playing in Mexico was fucking AWESOME. The shows were great, people were VERY appreciative that we came down to Mexico for a few shows. And it was definitely awesome that I could speak the language there (cause I definitely could not when in Europe or Japan).
What is the best thing that you have heard at a hardcore show in a speech between the songs from the singer of some band?
Heh, not sure. Maybe “this is our last song” from a band that I really didn’t like and/or a band that played for way way way too long.
Which is the best Comadre record, you have so many records, so which one is the most worth listening to? And how do you manage to sell your records with such hilarious song titles? What about the Comadre mixtapes?
I really like “A Wolf Ticket”. I think we tried some new shit that came off very well and fitting (for us at that time) on that record. So yeah, if someone would ask me what Comadre record to listen to if I could only pick one, I would say A Wolf Ticket. And I dunno about the song titles thing, you tell me. And the mixtapes were an idea I kinda came up with because I am a fan of hip hop, and hip hop artists love doing mixtapes. It is a perfect way to try some other/new shit that usually you would never do on a “real” record, and then give them away for absolutely free. It keeps people interested and they are fun as hell to do cause you are not really trying to take them very seriously.
You’re doing covers of bands like Rites of Spring, Refused, and Kid Dynamite. Why did you choose to do these covers and who were the most influential bands for your music back in the day when you formed the band?
They are songs from bands that we all like. It is hard to pick bands that all 5 of us enjoy listening to, hah, so yeah, we picked songs from bands that all 5 of us enjoy. As far as influential bands, you just named them; the influential bands for Comadre are the bands that we have covered songs of.
Do you believe in gravity and are you scared of witches?
Gravity exists I guess, I mean, it has to, right? And witches ARE scary as shit (see the documentary “The Blair Witch Project” for reference).
Any last words or advice to the readers you would like to impart?
Thanks so much for being interested in what we do and for the support. Again, I apologize for taking some time to get to answer these questions, but really, we honestly appreciate your love and interest in what we do. Much love to you and all of our homes who might be reading this right now, and thanks so much for such a great time in Europe this past Summer!