My Heart to Joy left us with one hell of a full length before disbanding. As one great band was coming undone, another one was blossoming with some of the most promising music in the underground scene I had personally heard in a while. It just so happens that Greg Horbal was part of both of them. Horbal took some time to talk about his constant involvement in the D.I.Y. scene, The World is a Beautiful Place... and how he takes credit for the word "twinkle daddies" - whatever that means.
Tell me about the end of My Heart to Joy and your beginning involvement with The World Is... How did both come about? Looking back, what did you learn about being in My Heart to Joy that you carried over into The World Is... and other projects you've been working on since then.
Everyone in [My Heart to Joy] knew [we were] going to implode at some point. I feel like I knew that the day I joined the band. Anyone close to us knew it was going to happen during our last year. It was just a matter of when. We were talking about and writing our second LP and my friends kept making jokes about how we were never got to it. The band fell off the tracks when our drummer and my best friend Alan [Huck] quit after our last tour. At that point I knew the countdown had started. We got a fill-in drummer to play a bunch of shows in the fall of 2010 and then the band halted after Fest that October. While this was happening, TWIABP had a guitar player quit. I was at a show at Derrick [Shanholtzer] from The World is...’s house and I was talking about how bummed I was to see Tyler go because I loved the band so much. When Derrick had mentioned they were looking to replace him I told him I would be more than happy to do it. I think he hesitated at first because of how active MHTJ was at the time. I believe though that Tim Casey from Hostage Calm let it slip to Derrick that My Heart to Joy “wouldn’t be that busy, if you catch my drift” in the coming months, and I got a text a few days later asking me to join. The lessons that I’ve learned from My Heart to Joy have helped TWIABP a ton. There aren’t really specific things that have been important, but just the experiences I’ve taken from my old band have made functioning in TWIABP ten times easier and more enjoyable. I feel everything has been just falling into place for us. Everyone in the band has been playing for so long and it’s all we want to do.
So far, The World Is... has released two EPs and one split. Essentially, it's been a small collection of songs with each release. What does that say about the writing process for the band? Will we ever see a full-length this coming year?
When I first joined the band it was very “short release” orientated. We didn’t really want to do an LP and opted instead to shoot for EPs and splits. We’ve all decided at this point though that the next thing we’re going to do is an LP. We have a lot of ideas demo’d out, we just need to start piecing them together. They’ve honestly been the only things I’ve been listening to consistently for the last few months, and I’m getting really excited. I feel like we’re really starting to write to our full potential. Much like MHTJ, the writing process for this band has been very constant. I’ve talked to a lot of dudes in bands who seem to hate the writing process. I feel that just because you just finished one release you shouldn’t wait to get started on the next. Since day one, TWIABP has always been focused on writing for specific releases. We’ve never had a period on the horizon where future releases don’t seem clear. I think when we finished recording Are Here to Help You we practiced playing those songs for a week or two, and then dove head into writing for the LP. And once we finish the LP we’ll be working on splits with Joie De Vivre and possibly a 3 or 4 way split with Self Defense Family (End of a Year) and one or two other bands.
What does it mean to have Chris part of the band, after being together in My Heart to Joy?
Steve, who plays drums in TWIABP actually played in MHTJ once Alan left the band, so at this point half the group is ex – MHTJ. It’s been a really smooth transition since I’ve been used to playing with both of them for so long. I love those guys.
The word "twinkle" has certainly gained moment over the past year, and The World Is... is kind of becoming synonymous with it. Your thoughts on that.
The popularized use of that word is my fault. TWIABP left for our winter tour last January with the intent of making “twinkle daddy” the new “scramz”. I was saying “twinkle this,” and “twinkle that” every second and was being a real loud asshole across the midwest and east coast. Apparently everyone heard me and it stuck. I knew that this thing was beyond my control in May. I was with Kevin [Duquette] from Topshelf at a You Blew It! show in Boston. The band stops and I hear this kid behind me say something along the lines of “Twinkle Daddy, it’s the name for the sound." When I turned around it dawned on me I had never seen the kid before. My mind was blown. I ran up to Kevin screaming “IT WOKRED, IT WORKED!" Yesterday someone just sent some copies of the Northeastern music magaizine that had an article on “twinkle daddies." This joke has gone so far I’m not that offended that World is… gets lumped in with all those bands, but honestly we don’t even twinkle that hard.
Besides being in a band and booking tours, you're also booking other shows, booking other people's tours. Do you feel like a "go to guy" for advice from both local and touring bands?
I feel like I give advice a lot whether people want it or not at this point. I’ve just been doing this so long that it’s all I care and talk about. I’ve noticed that any time a new band I like in Connecticut pops up I wind up at their shows talking to them about what they need to be doing. I assume most think I’m annoying.
In regards to my last question, what are the best things you learned about the D.I.Y. scene in the past couple of years? If The World Is... ever got huge, what of what you learned would you take with you?
I honestly don’t have an answer for this question. There is no “best lesson” to learn. Everything you walk away with and everyone you meet is important. I feel like the only things I’ve come to know is that it’s important to work your ass off. At this point I’m working 40 hours a week because TWIABP is not touring full-time. But like every night when I get home I come and work on either something band related or am booking a tour for one of the bands I work with. I watch so many amazing people just get nowhere because they’re not willing to put the time in. If you work, it’s possible to succeed. If the band becomes more successful I think we would just continue down the same path we always have. The only thing we care about is writing and playing.
2011, even the tail-end of the 2010 has been a great year for underground bands in the D.I.Y. scene. For someone that's been a part of that scene for some time, what about these past couple of years have you seen in the community that has really had the most positive impact in growth and companionship amongst bands that don't sound alike at all?
I have never seen community and companionship as strong as it was with the response to the death of Mitch Dubey. When MHTJ first toured the country we had a hard time going a day without meeting some one who knew Mitch. He was really a one-of-a-kind guy. When he was killed, our communities responded so quickly. His family had already been struggling before his murder, and it seemed like everyone wanted to do their part to help out. There were a ton of benefit concerts and Topshelf Records is even in the process of releasing a Benefit LP titled Fuck Off All Nerds. I think in this day and age it really doesn’t matter what bands sound like for them to be a part of this scene. I’ll listen to the Beach Boys, Bomb the Music Industry!, Floor, Code Orange Kids and Snowing in a 20-minute period. Genres don’t matter. What is important though are morals and ethics, and I think these are the things we promote in our communities. The amount of support that was extended to help the Dubeys after everything happened shows what is really important to us all.
You, and a few others I know, are very adamant about your straight-edge lifestyle. What about the life choice did you gravitate to? Do you feel its a positive influence overall, or do you think some younger kids will see it as a trend and eventually just break edge? What about it is important to you?
Some things just make sense, you know? My grandfather was an alcoholic, and there were some periods of his life where alcohol really got in his way. Minor Threat was really my gateway into it. The logic and ideas behind straight edge just really struck me. I had all these kids older then me telling me I was going to be a stoner, and all of a sudden I had these records that made it clear that I didn’t have to be that person. To this day the principals continue to be important to me. I think when you’re not pushing an agenda down anyone’s throat straight edge is really positive. I think with age you get the sense that it’s not for everyone though. I grew up in a punk community where everyone was straight edge and like I can think of three that are left. It’s really not for everyone. And honestly at this point when I’m at my job I just don’t even talk about it. I had this guy come up to me on a Friday afternoon and say “I bet you can’t wait to get home and have a cold beer." In my head I was thinking, "I could explain this thing to him, but he’s probably not gonna get it," so I just answered “Yeah…”
There have been a lot of your friends' bands breaking up this year - Snowing, Joie De Vivre, Grown-Ups, etc. I would really like to know your thoughts on this. The bands have obviously been great in one capacity or another, but what do you think of the impact a band has in such a short term, and how can it continue to resonate?
I mean it sucks, but bands come and go. I know these guys, and I know most of their new bands are going to rip. I wouldn’t be surprised if they blew what they’ve already done out of the water. I feel like one of the reasons I was drawn to the punk community in the first place was how important music actually is to everyone. Records change people’s lives. It’s happened to me countless times. Those records can stick with you for life. What’s crazy to me now though is after growing up with that mentality I’ve now watched all my friends affect people the same way. And it’s not like these records are just going to disappear now that the bands have broken up. Those EPs and LPs are stuck on the Internet forever and more and more people are going to keep finding them.
Any last words of advice?
I once heard a man high on crack yell “Punk the fuck out.". I think we should all live by that.