SICK OF IT ALL vocalist Lou Koller recently spoke with WSOU 89.5 FM, the South Orange, New Jersey college radio station of Seton Hall University. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On how the hardcore scene has changed over the years:
Lou: "I love it that people take different influences. When we were coming up, they took influence from English punk mixed with the New York sound, and the reggae influence of BAD BRAINS. Then QUICKSAND took it to another level where they took the influence of the alternative music world. It's always growing, and I think the way it's changed now, it's good, because people are bringing it fresher and hardcore bands can actually make a living at it. We know we've struggled for 30 years, but as long as they don't lose the open-mindedness of it, that's what we always try to keep going. There was a time when crossover started, people resisted it. On the metal side, people resisted — 'Oh, who are these kids bringing their slam-dancing into our shows?' On the hardcore side, they were like, 'Who are these long-haired people at our shows?' Which is stupid, because my first show when I went to CBGB, I had super-long hair and a MOTÖRHEAD jacket."
On where he thinks the scene will go next:
Lou: "I can't predict what the sound could be. The guys from TRAPPED UNDER ICE made the band ANGEL DU$T, and they sound nothing like TRAPPED UNDER ICE. They sound like kind of a mix of a little bit of modern hardcore — not the heavy part, but a throwback to '70s punk. You don't know what it's going to be. Right now, there's some kid going to a SICK OF IT ALL show or going to see TURNSTILE, and they're going to come up with the next thing. It's just going to come out of them."
On the advice he'd give up-and-coming hardcore bands:
Lou: "We weren't musicians; we were just excited teenagers who wanted to play, and punk was the thing where we didn't have to be note-perfect — 'Let's just do this.' We tried to imitate our heroes. We tried to write like AGNOSTIC FRONT, but because of the way we played, it sounded like SICK OF IT ALL, and that's what became our sound. You can see an artist that you love and not try to sound like them — just try to kind of emulate or be influenced by it, but come up with your own stuff. My other advice is — and this is the boring part — even when you're starting, just learn the business, because you'll be much safer that way. And always be cool to your bandmembers. A lot of bands break up just because of money. Everybody asks us why we've been together for 32 years. From day one, we split everything evenly. No matter how much this person wrote songs or that person didn't write — as long as everybody's there and busting their butts, that's what we always do. You've got to be cool to each other."
On the modern music industry:
Lou: "It's changed so much. People don't really even need labels anymore. We're on labels because we're used to it. If we weren't so stuck in our ways, we could probably [be], like, 'All right, let's put stuff out on our own.' What you need is good distribution. That's what a lot of labels are doing now. It's becoming more of, 'Hey, we'll distribute your record all over the world, blah blah blah.' The music industry should really take a look at itself and figure out what they're going to do, because the dinosaur version's going to die out soon. You can sit at home and record a full album on your laptop, and distribute it through Bandcamp or whatever. The industry's really changed, but if you're going to get involved with labels, just remember that you have more leverage now than any of us ever did. Back then, we didn't have a choice. It was like, 'Put your records out on Label X, or do it yourself.' Now, it's so much easier. If you're a popular band and labels come and court you, and you don't like the contract they're offering, you can just say, 'No, because I can do it on my own in my basement.'"
On the "biggest obstacle" the group has faced:
Lou: "Maintaining relevancy. If you're going to be it for the long run, trying to maintain keeping yourself fresh. We've done it to a certain extent, but we're not a young band anymore, and no matter how good we are – and we're not bragging, but we really bring it live, and I think our latest record is great, one of the best ones we've ever written — there's going to be a 16-year-old kid who's not going to give a crap about it, because I'm 50 years old, you know? [Laughs] He's going to be like, 'I don't want to see a guy my dad's age yelling onstage.' That's our biggest obstacle — trying to keep relevant, and trying to engage younger fans to be into us... That's why we play the way we do. You have to give 100 percent every night. You want people to be entertained and to have a good time."
On how he prepares for the band's aggressive live performances:
Lou: "Now, you have to stretch a hell of a lot more. It's not like when we started, and you just roll up in the van and you're like, 'Oh, we go on in 10 minutes,' and jump out of the van and just get up and play. Now, I've got to get there and stretch. [Laughs] It's the only we know how to play. It's the music, too. It's not like we're getting up there and playing ballads, and we're going to stand still. It makes me want to move. It makes me want to get excited, and that's what we hope it gets the audience doing."
SICK OF IT ALL released its twelfth studio album, "Wake The Sleeping Dragon!", on November 2. The follow-up to 2014's "The Last Act Of Defiance" was produced by Jerry Farley (EVERY TIME I DIE, DEMON HUNTER) and was mixed and mastered by Tue Madsen (MESHUGGAH, THE HAUNTED, MADBALL).
Photo credit: Montecruz Foto