Good Clean Fun
On September 11th New York and Washington were targets of an attack by terrorists that shocked the world. Nevertheless me and Tobi decided to go to a Good Clean Fun show and do an interview with them. Issa (vocals) and Mike (bass, he also runs Phyte Records) agreed to do an interview and talked about their views on the things that happened that day first...
Mike: I mean itís crazy. Right now we have no clue whatís going on. I was in Heidelberg at a castle and two of the people with us had cell phones and they got text messages from their friends saying ďHey, shitís going crazy at home.Ē The whole day we were listening to NPR (National Public radio) from the US. We didnít hear much apart from the fact thatÖ
Issa: Ösome planes crashed into some stuff.
Mike: But yeah, hopefully weíre not going to be directly affected, hopefully no one that we know has been hurt or anything. Even if they have been it wouldnít cause us to cancel the show.
What do you think will be the reaction of the US?
Issa: I guess it depends on what happens. Iím pretty positive thereíll be a war. Iím serious, I think there will be a war. Definitely. I donít see how itís avoidable.
Do you think terrorism can be stopped that way?
Issa: Thatís way too hard a question to answer, way too complicated. I donít even know where to begin to answer that.
So you never thought about cancelling the show tonight? Lots of people were asking if the gig is going to take place at allÖ
Mike: This show? Weíre in Schorndorf, Germany, tonight and thereís nothing we are able to do, you know.
Issa: Unfortunately we didnít have a way to find out if our friends are hurt. We donít think so, we donít know anyone who should have been in any of those places. We actually tried to call the US but we canít as the lines are down, thereís nothing we can do.
Mike: Iíve always been kind of against the whole paranoia around things like this. A friend of mine from Germany in Munich just sent this mass e-mail to all his friends as his girlfriend is in the States and she might have been in New York this week. The chances of us knowing anyone that was injured or is dead is probably pretty slim, and if they are Iíll find out. I donít want to sound like a heartless bastard, but I will find out eventually, Iím not trying to get on the phone and call every single person that I know in D.C. and be like: ďAre you hurt? Is anybody that I know hurt? Is anybody that you know hurt?Ē
Then letís stop talking about this horrible events and start talking about your new record. How about the responses to the album after its release?
Issa: I think we had a pretty decent response. Everybody seems to think itís faster and harder than the old record. I donít see it that way, but whatever. I like it and Iím happy with it.
Mike: Have you heard the new record?
Mike: What do you think of it?
I think itís great.
Issa: Thanks, haha.
Mike: I think a lot of people are kind of confused especially here in Europe, because for one itís not out on an LP yet, but it is being released on vinyl, and the second thing is the artwork that we did primarily for the US version is like a take of the rap band N.W.A. ďStraight outta ComptonĒ. In the US, every single kid knows that record cover. It was a huge deal back in the 80s when the record came out, but over here some people do know the record cover, but a lot of people just think that we have really shitty artwork this time around.
Issa: Some people said ďI really like your new record but the artwork sucks.Ē
Mike: I sit behind the table where we sell stuff and I think people look around and they look at our CD theyíre kinda like ďWellÖno.Ē I mean it sucks that people might base their purchase on the cover, but a lot of times people do that.
Issa: The vinyl is actually going to have a different cover that we designed, or it was re-designed. Itís already all finished. Weíre waiting for it to be pressed. They actually might have it right now, but we donít have it.
Mike: Have you heard of Defiance Records from Cologne?
Yeah, of course.
Mike: They are doing the vinyl. It should be out hopefully by the end of this tour.
I heard a funny story about that vinyl release on Defiance which goes something like this: The guys who run Defiance supposedly had to become Straight Edge to be allowed to press the vinyl, heheÖ (Laughter)
Issa: I think one of them already is sXe and the other guy isnít, but now he is.
Mike: I think he used to be sXe but isnít anymore.
Do you think that some people might not get the humour behind your lyrics and that they might think you make fun of the Hardcore and the sXe scene?
Issa: Itís happened. I mean a lot of people have been mad at us for thinking we said something we didnít mean, not understanding the joke. Most people seem to get it, especially if they have seen us play, Ďcause then itís really obvious I guess. If youíve never seen us you could be confused about a couple of things, but 95% of the people figure it out with no problem. Maybe even 99%. Maybe even more. (Hey, that would be 100% then. Damn, ainít I smart? Ė Stefan)
Who writes the lyrics then?
Issa: I write them.
Did you also come up with the title for the new record and the cover?
Issa: We kind of came up with that all together.
So thatís some kind of a ďcommon opinionĒ?
Issa: I mean we had a bunch of different ideas and we just decided we like that one best.
How did you come up with these lyrics that are in the meantime kind of a trademark for Good Clean Fun? Did you want to be different from all the other Hardcore bands around and typical sXe lyrics?
Issa: It wasnít really on purpose. We thought it was needed. People were taking everything too seriously, so we thought we try to take it less seriously.
Would you then say that the whole scene takes itself too seriously?
Issa: Not the whole scene but a lot people. A lot of people take things way too serious.
When Shelter were over here for the last time Ray Cappo got a lot of shit because supposedly heís no longer sXe. I think thatís rather stupid, because being or not being sXe is a personal choice in my opinion. What do you think about that?
Issa: I think itís really silly to be mad about someone for not being sXe anymore. Itís kind of funny, you can laugh at them, but you really shouldnít be mad at them.
But can you understand these people being disappointed because their ďheroesĒ dropped the edge after all the things they did with Youth of Today?
Issa: Yeah sure, but I think you shouldnít be mad about that. One of the things about Youth of Today that they talked about that you should take away from listening to Youth of Today is that they werenít trying to be any different from the people that were listening to them, you know. You shouldnít look up to Youth of Today as heroes, and I donít think Youth of Today wanted you to look up to them as heroes, thatís not what they were about. And Hardcore shouldnít be about that, I donít want anyone looking at us, Good Clean Fun, as heroes, not that I think anyone does, haha. That would just completely miss the whole point of the whole band and the whole Hardcore scene. If Ray stops being sXe Iím not psyched about it, but Iím not gonna cry about it or be angry at him about it, itís what he wants to do.
Mike: I also think that way. I mean how old are you?
Mike: I mean weíre older people. When I was 14, I probably would have been a little bit more angry if people that were singing lyrics that I really liked changed their entire opinion on it. Now that Iíve gained my own perspectives, sXe is more of a personal thing to me at this point, I couldnít care less what Ray Cappo does, whether it be cocaine or not. (Laughter)
Issa: The point is to do whatís right for you. If someone else is doing it thatís great, if theyíre not thatís great, too. You should be making your decisions in life based on what you feel and not what other people do. You can get ideas from other people, but you shouldnít base your life on what other people do.
What do you think about bands that preach all these sXe lyrics on stage?
Issa: I think thatís fine. I donít think thereís anything wrong about preaching on stage, I think some people say something thatís interesting and good and needs to be talked about, and some people maybe say stuff thatís kinda silly to be talked about, but I think if your band is about something you should definitely talk about that, I think thatís fine. I think that a lot of people do take sXe too serious, and that usually manifests itself by trying to force other people to be sXe also or thinking that everyone whoís cool or smart has to be sXe which obviously isnít true. Are you sXe?
Issa: Good, haha.
I think it depends how you would define sXe. I mean I really donít eat that much meat, but I wouldnít say I am a 100% vegetarian.
Mike: I think to us it has nothing to do with it. I mean you can definitely be sXe and eat meat. I mean theyíre both separate issues that are both very important. Myself personally and I would imagine the rest of the band personally would say that theyíre not really that correlated.
How long do you think will youÖ
Mike: Öbe sXe? Forever.
I wanted to ask something different, but do you think you will be sXe for the rest of your life (I do think I will be)?
Issa: I plan on it. Iím 29.
Mike: There comes a certain age. I mean if it has been important for you up to that point why wouldnít it be important after that point?
Issa: Iíve never had a drink in my whole life and Iím not gonna start now.
The last time I drank alcohol was like 5 or 6 years ago, I never smoked or did drugs and I don't have the impression that I am missing anything with not drinking, not smoking and not taking drugs, but my original question was: How long do you think you will go on with Good Clean Fun or being involved in the music scene in general?
Issa: I will be doing something with music for probably the rest of my life. I absolutely love music, not just Hardcore but all kinds of music. As for Good Clan Fun itís really hard to say. When we kinda started out we had some goals, and weíve met all these goals, you know. Weíre gonna take some time off and see what happens, but we donít know. You know weíve played almost everywhere in the world. We actually still have to go to Japan, we havenít been to Japan yet, so we have one goal we havenít done yet. Aside from that we have been around the world, had a great time, played a bunch of shows and itís been really cool.
So did your goals or your views on the whole music scene change since the days when you started playing with Good Clean Fun?
Issa: Not really.
Mike: I mean itís not really opened our eyes, itís just been that we had a lot of unique experiences, but I think especially for myself I used to be on tour a lot before we did this band with other bands that were friends of ours. If weíd have never toured before I think our perspective on Hardcore would be different, but one of the things about touring is just kinda realizing that Hardcore is the same everywhere primarily. I mean there are little differences, and there are cultural or monetary differences in the countries that you go to, but once you get inside the venue the shows are the same.
Would you say there are any major differences concerning the crowds in various countries?
Mike: I mean of course in some countries thereís problems with machoism, thereís more tough dancing and more fights and whatever, but everything is pretty much the same. I mean shows are pretty standard, you know. A band shows up, they play, people dance and sing along or just stand there, the band packs up, they talk to the people that wanna talk to them or people they wanna talk to and then they leave.
Mike, you are also running Phyte Records. How do you handle that while being on tour?
Mike: I do it very poorly, I do a really poor job. I actually talk to a lot of people, theyíre amazed that Iím available to do anything with it while Iím on the road. I think theyíre kinda funny because I donít think I do very much and I think most of the stuff that Iíve done I havenít really done as well as I would like to, I put out some records for some bands. I wish I really could have done more for them. It has been very hard to balance the two, but at the same time itís been a good learning experience.
Before we were talking about your goals with Good Clean Fun, what about your goals with Phyte Records, Mike?
Mike: To be honest, I didnít have any expectations with Phyte Records.
At that time of the interview we were interrupted by Reaching Forward who started their soundcheck. As we were doing this interview sitting on stage we decided it would be best to move, because otherwise the only thing that would have been heard on the tape would be some distorted guitars. So we went upstairs in kind of a backstage area where I already did an interview with tonightís support band Reaching Forward a couple of months before. There we went onÖ
Mike: The only goals that I really had were to be able to put up some Good Clean Fun records. That enabled us a lot of freedom to do whatever we liked to do as a band.
How did you get the money to release records?
Mike: I used to work for an internet company, and I would do pornographic videos of myself.
Issa: He was paid not to release them. (Laughter)
Mike: The same way anybody gets money, from work or whatever, over the course of years accumulated money. Once I put out a record the money comes back in.
So itís something like releasing a record to get the money to do the next one?
I have made the experience that record labels seem to be a bit reluctant about sending out promos to little zines. Why would you say this is happening? Shouldnít especially little zines be supported?
Mike: I think itís really hard for a small label to send out a lot of stuff. I mean thereís two ways to look at it. One is you could spend a lot of money sending stuff out, because for each release the cost is what it costs you to put out the CD plus the postage. Thatís what it costs to send out a promo. So you could send that out and hope that someone will read the review and then buy the record because of that. Or you could just have a blanket policy of not really sending anything out. I am really poor about sending out a lot of promos just because of those and of costing more than I think itís worth. I think if youíre gonna send out promos you have to be actively involved in all forms of advertising, putting out a lot of ads etc. There are other components to that, but that would end up costing a lot of money. My label, it differs on which band Iím dealing with. You know, for Good Clean Fun, in the past Iíve spent a lot more money trying to give promos and put out ads than I have with some of the smaller releases, just because I know Iím gonna get the money back with Good Clean Fun. With other bands on their first releases itís kind of a risk.
Issa, you are responsible for the lyrics in Good Clean Fun. Where do you get your inspirations for the words youíre writing? Maybe from Crucial Youth?
Issa: Oh, absolutely, theyíre one of my favourite bands. I actually was just talking about this event: I saw them play a long time ago, I donít remember when, and there was nobody there. You know, I was living in D.C. and there was this big Hardcore festival in New Jersey, Wide Awake etc. But I never saw Wide Awake because instead of going to New Jersey in stayed in D.C. to see Crucial Youth play. And there were only five other people there, so me and five people saw Crucial Youth, and it was so much fun. Itís one of my favourite shows Iíve ever been to. Theyíre always one of my favourite bands. They did a couple of reunion shows and they actually asked us to play with them, and it was very, very cool. It was awesome. It was kind of like almost a dream come true. Theyíre definitely one of my favourite bands.
Any other bands?
Issa: 7 Seconds because their lyrics are amazing. Not for the humour so much as the positive attitude.
And what about musical influences?
Issa: Gorilla Biscuits (of which they played ĎNew directioní later that night - Stefan), Minor Threat, 7 Seconds, Youth of Today, that kind of stuff, mainly Hardcore. Wide Awake, Side by Side. I mean the most influential band for Good Clean Fun would definitely be Gorilla Biscuits.
Do you know what Civ is doing these days?
Issa: I have no idea.
Mike: Tattoos or something.
Issa: Yeah, I think itís tattoos.
Mike: Hopefully he is okay since he lives in New York. (Laughter)
Issa: His tattoo shopís blown up. (Even more laughter)
Did you send Dr. Dre or Ice Cube a copy of the new album?
Issa: Haha, no, we have not.
Mike: No, but if you look carefully at the thanks list theyíre there.
So there havenít been any reactions to it?
Mike: All the stuff weíve done has always been really small, I donít think the guys saw them. We did a Prince 7Ē picture disc with a ĎLetís go crazyí cover. Prince did an album called ĎPurple rainí early in the 80s and thereís this picture of him on a motorbike. Weíve re-enacted that and took a picture of Issa on a motorbike. I think Prince is a real hard ass when it comes to borrowing stuff, and people ask us all the time if we had been in trouble for that, but weíre such a small band that in relation to any of that kind of stuff. Thereís no way weíre gonna get in trouble.
Issa: The people we know that we make fun of like Promise Ring and Path of Resistance, they all think itís really cool. I donít think Prince would find it cool, but people we know have been cool. We havenít talked to Saves the Day yet. (Laughter)
Do you have any final words for this interview?
Mike: Thanks for the interview. Look into veganism and vegetarianism.
Issa: Yeah, cool. What he said. (Laughter)