AbsolutePunk.net
   Username
Password
 
Interview: Propagandhi - 09.04.12
 

Propagandhi - 09.04.12

Interviewed by
Propagandhi - 09.04.12To celebrate the release of Failed States, we caught up with Propagandhi's Chris Hannah to talk about the new record and more. Thanks to the users who helped submit some of the questions:


I remember back in 2010 you wrote an update on your website saying you were looking for a new label after Smallman shut down. What made you choose Epitaph in the end?

Yeah, we never really sought out a record label before, it just kind of happened for us. We were treated so well by Fat Wreck Chords and Smallman Records and G7 Records too. We never really had to go looking until then, they just came to us and it happened. So we were kind of in an awkward position, we didnít know where to start and didnít really know anybody. Weíre kind of an isolated band from the rest of the scene. So we put that out there and we had quite a bit of feedback from some really cool labels that had some really good ideas. Part of the problem was everyone seemed cool and nice, but we didnít really have any insider consumer report, you know? So we thought ĎWell, where do we know bands?í We checked out a few labels specifically with people we knew. Especially when we talked with John from the Weakerthans, Kurt from Converge and Ben from Heartsounds we started to consider Epitaph. Those are all three different bands, but they all come from somewhere similar and for them to be able to give us such a good report on a label was a little unusual we thought. But so far with our experience with them, they lived up to the whole "me" feeling that Fat Wreck Chords and Smallman had. It doesnít feel weird, they listen to us and they ask us every step of the way if weíre comfortable with what is going on. Which means they arenít trying to fit us into their machine, theyíre trying to fit their machine to what weíre doing and thatís all weíve ever wanted from a label. Smallman and Fat Wreck Chords set that standard for us years ago and weíre happy to be with Epitaph now.

You recorded Failed States in Winnipeg at Private Ear. What made you decide to stay home instead of packing up and going to a larger market?


There were a few factors. One was that when we started doing this record we didnít have a label and didnít know what was going to happen with that. I also have a son whoís almost 3 now and he didnít exist when we went down to the Blasting Room for the last record. Plus I think everyone thought, weíd never made a record in our hometown before, so we thought we should try it. We thought it would be different than going somewhere else and watching the clock with the financial guns at our heads working 14 hour days and trying to hammer out a record regardless of whether the performances lived up to our vision. Which is an interesting way to make a record and not a bad way to do it necessarily, especially with the guys at the Blasting Room, I highly recommend them. But we wanted to try something a bit more open ended and we thought that being here we wouldnít be immersed into the record 24/7. We could work for a few hours, go home, not be around each other and take a break before going back and have plenty time to reconsider things weíve done. We could easily book extra days because we wouldnít have to head back by a certain time. Weíd have more time to try things out and experiment a bit more. We could have finished recording much more quickly, but we wanted time to experiment too.

What was it like recording with John Paul Peters?


It was good, John Paul is running a studio in a tough town so every offer for work he was to take it. That can mean he crams a lot of projects into a short period of time and he tries to do other projects while yours is going on. That was new for us, but otherwise it was super fun. Heís known about our band for many, many years and understands where weíre coming from. I think his real strength is finding out early on what a gold standard is for a performance and trying to maintain it for the remainder of the record. But a band like us, we donít really need a producer, we mostly just need somebody to make sure we donít get lazy. If we were left to our own devices, the standard would go down. Heís also better at paying attention to detail than us and that was really helpful.

How would you say Failed States varies from Supporting Caste?


Sonically itís very different. It sounds more like us in our practice space really, except maybe not so lo-fi. And then perhaps compositionally I think thereís a bit more adventure, but I donít know. Itís hard to say from our perspective, it all feels part of the same puzzle really. Iíve been surprised by the initial response, people are emphasizing that itís a heavier, faster and thrashier record. I was expecting people to be more like ĎOh wow, thatís a little more out there.í Especially the opening track, which is more meandering and thematic. So yeah, itís just a different perspective I guess.

For me personally, ďRattan CaneĒ really stood out as being much heavier. What was your inspiration for that track?


For sure totally. Todd wrote the lyrics, him and Beaver were the main guys that put the song together. I think itís specifically about the events in Aceh, Indonesia where punk rockers were being rounded up and having their heads shaved and put through those sort of reprogramming camps. Just the idea of the state interfering with someoneís individuality, the song has a real darkness that I really dig.

Whatís your personal favourite track?


I really like ďNote to SelfĒ because it was so different for us. We were trying to achieve something a little more cinematic and I feel like we really achieved that.

How much did Beaver contribute to this record compared to the last?


Tons. He did a lot on the last one, but this time he probably felt a little more comfortable introducing stuff. On Supporting Caste I think he was still trying to get the lay of the land and this time around heís truly all over the record.

Why is it that you and Todd donít share vocals on tracks very much?


In the same songs? We try to and on the new record we do on his songs, Iím singing backups. I guess we donít do a lot of back and forth stuff like we tried on Empires. I donít know, itís not always as easy as it seems to make it gel. I find with his voice and my voice, it works better if I do a backup or else itís too distracting. He has a big thick voice and I have a thin voice.

Someone was saying they heard a rumor that before the release of Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes, there was a problem with the guitar tracks and you had to re-do them at the very last minute? Is there any truth to that and what amplifier did you use?


There is very much truth to that. The truth is that we recorded the entire record and I decided the guitar tones sucked so I booked time to go back down and record them, but I made them sound worse somehow. I think I used a Mesa Boogie Mark IV, but I think the critical factor in that guitar tone was the pickups.

Someone noted that Todd is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and was wondering if you were involved?


Iím more into hockey, the greatest sport there is. I play on a team called Caress of Steel in the winter. In the picture of the band on the new record Iím wearing my jersey. The summer league team is called Stink Birds unfortunately.

Someone else was wondering if you follow the NHL?


Yeah I do, with reservations yeah. Iím a Leafs fan. But I was just saying to somebody else that if youíre playing beer league hockey, it doesnít really matter if thereís a lockout because youíre still playing hockey.

Some people didnít seem too pleased that they had to ďlikeĒ you on Facebook to hear Failed States.


That was a marketing thing from the label, but if anyone took an extra 5 seconds on the Internet the stream was in a number of places where you didnít have to sign up for anything. I donít use Facebook myself so I understand the hassle and annoyance. But you can find it other places so the complaint is taken with a grain of salt, one of those first world problems for sure. Weíre fucking streaming the record for free for you so donít complain too much.

If any politician came out publicly and stated they were fans of your band, would you belittle them or be grateful that they appreciate your music?


If Ralph Nader said he was a fan of the band Iíd be stoked, but I donít know, Iíd have to evaluate that on a case by case basis. I think thereís people involved with politics that arenít just guided by opportunity, they really care about the world we live in. But the people who end up as presidential nominees by and large are opportunists. With the recent controversy between Paul Ryan and Rage Against the Machine as an example, that would be more of a source of embarrassment than anything else.

What are some current bands you are into?


I donít have my ear to the ground as I have in years past, I think Iím more interested with what happens in the underground scene, not at the level weíre at. I was at this local fest called Arsonfest last year and I did sound for 8 bands that were all over North America. Each one fucking blew my mind and no one has ever heard of them outside of that scene. I think thatís where the interesting stuff is still happening, it has the vibe Jord and I experienced when we went to shows back in the 80s, where it was exciting and happening. Non-sanctioned venues, bands were wild and it was just a little more interesting.

Do you have any plans for a live DVD or album?


We do not.

Lastly you guys will be playing some shows out east soon. When will you be heading west?


We donít know, but weíre trying to figure that out. We were trying to book those dates in November and December, but itís not working out so weíll have to delay that until spring probably.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 10 of 10
10:30 AM on 09/04/12
#2
Dre Okorley
Offline
User Info.
Dre Okorley's Avatar
Cool. I like how you got straight to the point with the label move and Chris' favorite track. Awesome and very thorough interview.
10:42 AM on 09/04/12
#3
crutchfield
Offline
User Info.
No Avatar Selected
Thank you Deborah. Great job. And thank you for asking my question about the live album/DVD although i didnt like that one particular answer ;)
10:50 AM on 09/04/12
#4
Dre Okorley
Offline
User Info.
Dre Okorley's Avatar
Thank you Deborah. Great job. And thank you for asking my question about the live album/DVD although i didnt like that one particular answer ;)
Lol. It actually made me laugh out loud. Doesn't get any more straight forward than that.
12:09 PM on 09/04/12
#5
Nap
Registered User
Offline
User Info.
Nap's Avatar
Nice interview. I was really suspecting the Facebook thing was a decision of the label.
05:44 PM on 09/04/12
#6
RyanFTW
ATTACK POP PUNK
Offline
User Info.
RyanFTW's Avatar
Can't help but respect how frank he is about certain things. Especially the facebook thing.
10:35 AM on 09/08/12
#7
AP_Punk
Anarchist Cat Owner
Offline
User Info.
AP_Punk's Avatar
had no idea this was going on and the opportunity to ask questions came up (been busy with school lately). i would've asked if the title of Failed States had anything to do with the noam chomsky book of the same name, and how rad they think chris hedges is. ohwell.

anyway, awesome interview! i love that this happened.
10:53 AM on 09/08/12
#8
Deborah Remus
Winnipegger
Offline
User Info.
Deborah Remus's Avatar
had no idea this was going on and the opportunity to ask questions came up (been busy with school lately). i would've asked if the title of Failed States had anything to do with the noam chomsky book of the same name, and how rad they think chris hedges is. ohwell.

anyway, awesome interview! i love that this happened.
I see, I was honestly wondering where your questions were, haha. Oh well, maybe Dre can persuade them to do another AP.net chat...
08:51 AM on 09/09/12
#9
AP_Punk
Anarchist Cat Owner
Offline
User Info.
AP_Punk's Avatar
I see, I was honestly wondering where your questions were, haha. Oh well, maybe Dre can persuade them to do another AP.net chat...
it's not a propagandhi feature without me involved! and fingers crossed. set up another interview, when the band's promoting their new live DVD. haha.

NEWS, MUSIC & MORE
Search News
Release Dates
Exclusives
Best New Music
Articles
CONNECT
Submit News
Forums
Contests
Mobile Version
AP.net Logos
HIDDEN TREASURES
AbsolutePunk Podcast
Free Music
Sports Forum
Technology Forum
Recommendations
INFORMATION
Advertising
Contact Us
Copyright Policy
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
FOLLOW
Twitter | Facebook | RSS
PropertyOfZack
UnderTheGun
Purevolume
Chorus.fm | @jason_tate