Interview: Aaron - Negative Saints
NEGATIVE SAINTS are a band blazing outta Florida, playing a brand of dirty, noxious Punk Rock 'n' Roll that brings to mind both the mighty DEAD BOYS and ELECTRIC FRANKENSTEIN. They have a couple of demo CDs available from Rat Town Records. This is what vocalist/guitarist Aaron had to say...
..As the NEGATIVE SAINTS is a relatively new name for most readers, introduce yourselves and give us the basic history of the band - the who, where, what and why stuff. Who were the band's original influences? I hear a big DEAD BOYS/ELECTRIC FRANKENSTEIN vibe - that accurate?
..Aaron) Well we are a 4-piece band that started in early 2003 in Jacksonville, FL. Me and our drummer Dan got together and started writing music in early '03 with the help of a couple friends who are no longer in the band. A few months later we picked up Corey our bass player and our former guitar player. We got about 10 originals and a couple covers together and started playing shows around the southeastern US. We recorded 16 songs to put on a demo and compilations and continued to play shows with bands like NASHVILLE PUSSY, SUPAGROUP, ROACH MOTEL and the BELTONES.
As for the EF/DEAD BOYS vibe I would say that is pretty acurate. We all are constantly listening to all kinds of music new and old and I think that comes out in our music. Our sound may not be revolutionary but I think it does fuse many different influences together to make our sound. DEAD BOYS and bands like that are in constant rotation on my record player so I'm sure that comes out in our sound.
..What does this band hope to achieve that your previous bands failed to do? What would you like the NEGATIVE SAINTS to do that sets the band apart from any other band?
..Aaron) We show up to have a good time and play some rock n roll. As far as what previous bands failed to do I guess that would be a matter of opinion. There are lots of bands in the scene we are in that are very successful in my eyes. Maybe not money-wise but everytime they come to a town they have a good time and play their hearts out. I think that's all you can expect playing in a band is to play and have the time of your life. Anything else is extra. If you come to see us we are going to give you a musically tight set and leave you wanting more.
..I understand that guitarist, Stevie, left the band due to a "conflict of interests". What happened there? Have you found her replacement?
..Aaron) It was really nothing major, we all just wanted different things from the band. We were having problems with practices and we just kind of got the vibe that she was just there to play and not put in most of the work that goes in to having a band. I'm not saying there was a complete laziness, we just all felt that she wasn't putting in the effort the rest of us were. We have a new guitar player named Scott who started playing with us about a month ago. We should be ready to go again by March at the latest.
..You've released a couple of demo CDs via Rat Town Records. How did you hook up with Rat Town? The label is to release your debut album too yeah? You must be happy with what the label has done for the band yeah? Can you picture yourselves moving onto a bigger label if the offers appeared - say Fat Wreck or Nitro for example?
..Aaron) I've known Dan for a few years now and Rat Town is definately one of the hardest working indie labels in the south. It was kind of a logical move for us to go with Rat Town. As far as bigger labels such as Fat Wreck and Nitro, that would have to be taken as it came. I don't think we really fit the sound of either of those labels but I have noticed a diversification over the last few years so who knows. It would be great to get a large distribution and nationwide promotion but we'd have to see what the deal offers.
..Does the debut album differ in anyway from the demos, or is it the logical progression?
..Aaron) I think with any band, when you first start writing songs they come out different than say a year, maybe two, down the road. Our first songs were a little less organized and a little more raw maybe. Through playing with each other and getting a feel for how each member plays we are writing songs with more structure and emphasis on solid riffs and leads rather than just basic power chords.
..I note the opening track on one of the demos, 'Going Out Drinking' obviously suggests you guys aren't Straight Edgers! What's the bands chosen booze? Would you accept a sponsorship offer from Bud/JD/Southern Comfort/Smirnoff whoever?
..Aaron) Well I would say Old Milwaukee is big with me and Dan. Pabst Blue Ribbon is a favorite for everyone in the band. As for liquor, I'm a whiskey guy. As for sponsorship that is kind of like the label question. It would really depend on what they wanted from us. I would love to have Old Mil sponsor us but only if it was logical to do so.
..The other track that interested me lyrically was 'Record Store Floor' and its repeated refrain, "It just ain't rock 'n' roll anymore." Can you explain the idea behind the song and that line in particular?
..Aaron) I got the idea for this song listening to radio stations and record stores labeling bands "Hard Rock", "Soft Rock", "Nu Metal", etc. It just kind of made me sit back and wonder what happened to rock 'n' roll. Not hard rock but just plain rock 'n' roll. Chuck Berry, Little Richard, The Stones, that was rock 'n' roll. Why are bands so afraid to just be rock 'n' roll these days? I mean what the fuck is soft rock? You got a Michael Bolton album in the soft rock section... How is that ROCK at all? 'Record Store Floor' is basically just a comment on how music has turned it's back on rock 'n' roll and people shouldn't be afraid to play and call themselves just that.
..On those demo CDs are a couple of covers GANG GREEN's 'Alcohol' and THE STOOGES 'Search and Destroy'. You do any other covers in your live show? If I came to a NEGATIVE SAINTS show, what could I expect from your performance?
..Aaron) We also do a version of ANTISEEN's 'Fuck All Ya'll' and the DEAD BOYS' 'Caught with the Meat in Your Mouth'. It's good to have a load of covers so you're not known as that band that covers that song. Each show you can come out with a different cover or at least change them around so people aren't expecting the same thing at every show.
When you come to a NEGATIVE SAINTS show you can expect a tight driving set with no let down. Expect a beer swillin, rock and roll singin', good fucking time.
..Sounds good to me! What other subjects do your songs focus on? Do you ever delve into Politics? What about boy/girl lyrics? Is that just a cliché or something that could be tackled in a fresh way?
..Aaron) I think politics are very important but should be handled in a smart and calculated way. I think a lot of bands that consider themselves political go about themselves in the wrong way. It is a popular thing to sing about in Punk but I think a lot of people sing about it JUST for that reason. If you cannot deliver your opinion in a intellectual thought provoking way then I don't think anyone really wants to hear it. Don't say "Fuck the Government" and not have anything to back it up. We all have different political views in the band and usually my lyrics stay more personal than political.
Love songs are great as long as they aren't all flowers and butterflies.
..Because I firmly believe Punk is more than just music, I'd like to come off the band for a few questions and ask you about your home state of Florida and city of Jacksonville. Is there a strong Punk scene there?
..Aaron) As far as Jacksonville goes there isn't a big Punk scene but there is a very stong punk scene. The people we do have here stick together and are very much a crew. There is a kind of thought process that no band or person is bigger than Jacksonville. It doesn't matter who comes through town big or small we're going to have fun and they can fuck themselves if they have a problem. I've had decent sized bands come through and stay at my house and leave the next day going, "You guys are fucking crazy."
..Florida has always seemed to lack that recognisable, galvanising Punk Rock City, as in Boston or LA or NYC or Minneapolis or Austin. Does that act as a disadvantage for Florida bands, or does that make Florida bands that much more determined to succeed and be original?
..Aaron) I don't think that is a real big thought for most Florida bands. We make our own music and hopefully people like it. It seems in the bigger cities there is an overflow of bands and it is difficult to get heard. Down here there is breathing room. You don't have to have a schedule of when to record and whose hands to have it in by what time to maybe get booked somewhere. In a smaller scene you can sit back and do what is important, which is writing music.
..Florida's actually the state that gave us the likes of the Allman Brothers, Gary U.S. Bonds, Pat Boone, Limp Bizkit and Lynyrd Skynyrd yeah? Are the influences of those bands and people felt in mainstream Florida society? Has the success of bands like HOT WATER MUSIC, AGAINST ME!, LESS THAN JAKE and THE CRUMBS brought any new-found attention to the Punk scene in Florida?
..Aaron) Florida has always churned out the southern rock bands over the years but doesn't really seem to translate into any kind of help for anyone now. Florida is a state that for whatever reason once a band makes it big they would rather pretend they are from somewhere else. As for HWM and LESS THAN JAKE etc., I can't really comment. They are from a different city and a different scene. I am sure they have helped their friends though their success but it hasn't seemed to make anyone look at Florida as any kind of real underground market.
..What's Jacksonville, and Florida on a larger scale, like to live in? Is there much homelessness, unemployment, racial tension etc?
..Aaron) Jacksonville is kind of the biggest small town in America. We have a huge city and a decent population but most people are very small-town minded. Jacksonville is kind of more southern Georgia than north Florida. When you think of Florida stereotypes, our city has very few. As for unemployment and homelessness, there is definitely some in Jacksonville but not near as bad as almost any other big city I've been to.
..Florida has been victim to some seemingly catastrophic hurricanes. Did Jacksonville, being coastal, suffer in their wake? Does Bush Jnr's lack of conviction on global warming issues worry you? I have a quote of Bush's from the climate talks in Buenos Aires last December where he stated, "No one can say with any certainty, what constitutes a dangerous level of warming, and therefore what level must be avoided." As we don't know how bad it is going to be, he suggests, we shouldn't take costly steps to prevent it. How does that make you feel as Americans when your President is more concerned about financial loss/gain than he is about long-term environmental safety?
..Aaron) The hurricanes spared Jacksonville for the most part (some winds and downed trees) but the rest of the state was pretty fucked when all was said and done. As for global warming and Bush's stance on it I don't consider myself knowlagable to answer directly. Not that I don't have an opinoin but I'm not the person to ask. I will say Bush is a fuck up and his policies and actions are unfortunately something the American citizens will have to deal with for a number of years. The gullability and apathy of the people will hopefully not bite us in the ass more than it already has.
..What do you say to those who think that all Floridorians are either alligator-punching mud-wrestlers or Miami Beach sun-worshipping skin cancer casualties in the making?
..Aaron) That's a pretty acurate stereotype. You have your normal, mordern city life all throughout but as far as what we're known for that's pretty accurate.. haha
..Are you now pleased that Florida is seen less as the State that gifted George Jnr the election? What did you make of the 2004 election - would Kerry have been the better option? Where do you see America heading under another four years of Bush's tyranny?
..Aaron) The 2004 election was a disgrace and a dissapointment. The American people are fed up with Bush yet they re-elect him? It didn't make a lot of sense to me. I think part of the problem was the weakness of Kerry. Granted he couldn't be much worse of a President but was not a strong enough opponent to take out a current President. As for the next four years all we can do now is keep our fingers crossed.
..What did you make of bin Laden's pre-election video? Could it be considered that he in fact got just what he and al-Qaeda wanted - the re-election of their best recruiter?
..Aaron) Who knows? If nothing else it would seem to me as a sign of failure of the Bush administration. We're neck deep in the Iraq shit that has nothing to do with anything and here is the guy that attacked and killed American people still making videos. Kinda seems a little backwards to me.
..America, and the rest of the modern world, seems to have a problem with obesity at present. I'm not sure of the statistics, but if the hype can be believed, about 50% of the American population is over-weight. What's the solution to this gluttonous problem? Less junk food advertising, more exercise - should we even care? Maybe the obese should be prescribed Speed as an appetite suppresser - how would that work??!!
..Aaron) I'm not really one to ask about this problem. I'm about as skinny as they come so I guess I'm on the opposite side of the metabolism slide. I think the problem however is overall laziness. Everything is catered to be convienient. Why cook when there's Taco Bell, why walk when you can drive? I'm no better than anyone else on the subject but that is a great deal of the problem.
..Did you see the Morgan Spurlock film, 'Super Size Me' where he ate nothing but McDonald's for a month? A guy here in NZ thought he trivialised obesity - I personally thought he hi-lighted the dangers. What are you views on that?
..Aaron) Haven't seen it yet but I couldn't see it trivialising obesity.
..What do you think of the current state of Punk Rock? Do you feel it has been over-commercialised? Has the sense of it being a genuine and threatening counter-culture evaporated as a diluted version of Punk hits the mainstream and is accessible to all via MTV? Or is that just progression?
..Aaron) Yes and No. Anything seen as a threat by mainstream culture will always be watered down and sold to the masses to minimize the threat. I think some of the new found popularity has given a lot of the bands success and money that they have worked for years for. On the other hand the label made "Punk" bands with no credibilty definitely puts a bad name to what we've been doing for years. It will come and go but I think unfortunately "Punk" will permanately be something you can go to the mall and buy.
..I'm not sure if GREEN DAY's Billie Joe has been saying this over in the U.S, but he said to some of the media here in New Zealand that the band's new album, 'American Idiot' is the most important Punk album for 10 years. What do you think of that? Rampant ego from an American Idiot or is he sincere?
..Aaron) I haven't heard the album but that is a pretty bold statement to make especially from a guy in his shoes. I mean what was the last Punk album they made anyways? He may sincerely think that but he also might sincerely be out of his mind.
..A light-hearted one - who from the Simpsons do you relate to the most and why? If you could voice a character of your own in the Simpsons, what would the traits of that character be and how would it fit into the current programme?
..Aaron) That's a tough one. I think we all have a little of both in us. Deep down Homer is a drunk that goes to his 9-5 to pay mortgage and support his family. He also loves 70's rock and had a hit record of his own (The B Sharps). He's also not the sharpest tool in the shed though. Bart is a prepubescent troublemaker who is constantly breaking his old man's balls. Also not to bright and doesn't seem to have any luck with the ladies. SO.... I have to choose between a drunk musician and a sexually frustrated brat. I'll take the drunk musician. WINNER: HOMER
If I were written in to the episode I would most likely be an extra on a scene in MOE'S. Maybe Barney's long lost cousin. Who knows?
..So, after the album release, what are the plans for the band? You have any tours, single or comp appearances lined up? You thought about the follow-up album yet?
..Aaron) Well we plan on continuing to play shows in the southeast and maybe a few week long stretches up north. Hopefully we will put out a 7" or two and keep churning out the hits. haha. We are constantly writing music and practicing songs so when we have enough to record again we will.
2718 Ernest St
Jacksonville FL 32205