Monday 30 May 2016

***FUNERAL DINER exclusive interview w/Seth***

Seth from FUNERAL DINER and REPEATER RECORDS answered a slew of questions for OMSB and the results are educated, interesting and awesome! Some highlights include his musical influences, touring, what he's been listening to in 2016, his new musical ventures, the inspiration/synopsis of The Underdark LP, and the City Of Caterpillar 12" reissue on Repeater Records. And those are just the highlights!!!


What initially got you hooked on music? Which bands? What genres/scenes did you gravitate toward first?
Like a lot of people my age I got really into music because of Nirvana. Then took the next step into punk. Pop punk, ska, ska punk, 80s hardcore. It was the early 90s and I am from a very rural area of California so it wasn't always easy to be exposed to new music but I had a group of friends that all skated and went to shows together. By the mid 90s I was getting into hardcore and emo mostly and I moved to San Francisco in 1997 which made going to shows a lot easier.

Side note: When I was in high school I made a punk compilation with a friend and through that I met Shawn Decker (Coma Regalia, Middleman Records) and we have been friends ever since.

Tell us about Shawn Decker.
Shawn Decker is a wonderful man and I love and support Middleman records and every band Shawn has ever done.
~read the Shawn Decker (Coma Regalia & Middleman Records) here

Was your family supportive of your music?
My family has always been pretty great about it. My Dad is a drummer and he always played a lot (and still does!) but he never really toured so when I started being in bands he was really supportive even though he didn't really like the music.

From what you can remember, what was your first punk band? Hardcore band?
Not sure I want to talk about my first band because it was a ska-punk band when i was 16 (?) called Say Cheese and that is probably all that needs to be known about that. My first hardcore band I was the singer in a tech-metal hardcore band called Walken and I did my first recordings and tour with them in 2000-2001 and got kicked out after the first tour. The tour was kind of life changing and made me want to be on the road more and getting kicked out actually led to me getting asked to sing for Funeral Diner so it was not too bad of a change.

What led to you joining Funeral Diner, besides the story you just mentioned? They were already doing vocals so what led to the addition of Seth?
I got to join Funeral Diner because Dan was doing vocals but did not want to do them anymore basically and that was that. They had another friend of mine doing vocals for a little bit but that did not last too long and I got asked a little but before the Wicked recording session.

What made you gravitate towards vocals?
I gravitated towards vocals because I couldn't really do anything else at the time but I had a lot of enthusiasm and ideas about music.

What have you been doing since Funeral Diner disbanded, musically speaking? What projects do you have on the go now?
FD stopped playing together in 2007 after a Japanese tour and the release of the Doors Open ep. After Funeral Diner I played in a band called Stirling Says that was not hardcore at all but one of my favorite things I have ever done musically. I did vocals again in a group called Pills in San Francisco who are still playing after I left. I have been in LA since 2011 and did not play music for about 3 years but have been playing in a group called Last Good Sleep for a little bit now. We have a recording that is being mixed and are going to record a few more songs next month.

Besides that I do Repeater Records with my friend Chris Berry and we reissued The Underdark on vinyl as our first release and are going to be reissuing City of Caterpillar S/T in late spring. We are trying to do one release a year for now.

What release are you proudest of?
I think it's a toss up between The Underdark and Stirling Says lp Balboa. The Underdark because I got to write a concept album about D&D and (most) of the band fully supported it. Balboa was so much fun and the first recording I did that wasn't a hardcore record.

Is there a tour that stands out as being your favourite? If so, why?
There's no particular tour that stands out as the best. They were all amazing in one way or another. It had a lot to do with getting to tour with such great bands. Europe was an amazing place to tour and I miss touring in Europe so much it hurts sometimes. We got barred from Canada on our 3rd US tour by a border guard who knew what we were up to and wanted to stick it it to us I think. That was unfortunate, I liked playing Canada a lot too.

Tell us about the bands you did splits with. How did those come about? Which band were you most stoked to split with? What band exceeded your initial expectations?
Most of the splits we did were bands we toured with and got along with and sometimes it was just because they asked. The split with Raein is one of my favorites because I love those guys and they are still so good. The Ampere split is great because I was very happy with how our song came out, Ampere rule, and it is one of the most ridiculous pieces of vinyl ever pressed.

I didn't really know Zann before we did the split with them but they became one of my favorite groups to tour with and see live.

The Funeral Diner split with The Shivering before I joined was a personal favorite of mine too.

Like seriously to this day Kaospilot or Daitro or some other band comes on on my ipod on shuffle and I get all emotional about those times. Not in a nostalgic way either I don't think. Just in the way that I felt so connected to everyone when touring in a way that only happens in that situation. I guess that sounds like nostalgia...

What music influenced you during the Funeral Diner days?
I was constantly inspired by all of the bands we got to know in the FD days and still listen to a lot of those bands. So that was always great getting to see and tour with bands I loved and supported and to have those feelings hold up.

Tell us about your label. Why the name? What was the catalyst to starting it?
The label is called Repeater Records and my friend Chris Berry and I started it because there are a lot of hardcore/punk records that are really pricey and we wanted to try to reissue them. Music as a collectable commodity is not necessarily a bad thing but if we can help people get records they want I think that is more important than the secondary vinyl collector market. Funny note, one of the people who bought the pre-order just put it up on Ebay for $94.00, people ain't no good.

Why were Funeral Diner's 'Underdark' and the City Of Caterpillar LP chosen as the label's first two records?
The Underdark was the first because I know a few of the guys in that band. City of Caterpillar was kind of a long shot, we had a few other ideas but were like let's just ask. Chris and I had both met them in the early 2000s but we didn't really know them. They agreed though and have been really great to work with. City of Caterpillar is such an intense and important band and the fact that the album had been out of print for so long was why we wanted to reissue it. As with The Underdark to a lesser extent.

Would you like to explain about the 'Underdark' reissue and how that came about?
All i want to say about that is that everyone who mocked us on the internet for using kickstarter you were totally right and I wish we had never used it.

Any clue on what the next release for Repeater Records will be?
We are just trying to handle City of Caterpillar orders at the moment! We have some ideas but have not even started putting it into motion for a third release. We want to do one release a year but when you are working with bands that are no longer together that can make things harder as far as timelines.

You toured in a bunch of countries, did any stand out? Why? Did touring become a blur?
I honestly just love touring. I miss it all the time in my non-touring lifestyle I now lead. Europe was great all the time not just because the support they have for touring bands but also because there was always older folks at the shows. I was contemplating moving to Italy after the last big Funeral Diner tour because I liked it so much but that never came about. Touring never really became a blur which is one of the reasons I love it so much. There is definitely a rhythm to it that can probably become a rut for a lot of people but I always liked that. My new band Last Good Sleep is doing a little West Coast jaunt in August and I am beyond excited.

What is your most cherished release of all time?
I'm going to have to go with The Underdark because I got to be part of writing a concept album about D & D as a metaphor for the United States being a failing empire. Also Stirling Says "Balboa" which isn't a hardcore album but was one of the most fun experiences I ever had being in a band.

What are your thoughts on the term "screamo"?
It is as good as any I guess? It usually gives a better idea of what a band sounds like than emo which is like a bottomless void of a description. Also never understood skramz.

Any thoughts on the "emo revival", or whatever the hell they're calling it?
I don't think it's a revival or a second coming, there have been bands playing in these styles for years I think a lot of it is music writers having something easy they can label (and mislabel) music with. I generally think a lot of music writers are very lazy, which is my prejudice, but there's been a ton of great bands all through the 90s the early 2000s and up until now. It just seems marketable these days or something.

What are you listening to in 2016?
My top 20 of 2015 is available if you want to know what I'm listening to lately! I joined the emo groups that got us talking because I am still very interested in new emo/hardcore and wanted to see what other people are listening to and there are a lot of good bands out there.

All Dogs - Kicking Every Day
Melodic indie/pop punk with incredible hooks on Salinas Records. A riff in “How Long” makes me almost cry, one of my favorite live shows of 2015, the singer’s dad was there!
Favorite song- Flowers

Beach Slang - The Things We Do To Find People That Feel Like Us
This record rips and is deservedly on hundreds if not thousands of year end lists. The lyrics are so earnest it’s hard for me to handle sometimes but the music is so good it calms my bad attitude easily. Another one of my favorite live shows of the year, they played 26 songs.
Favorite song- Hard Luck Kid

Ceremony - The L-Shaped Man
The way this band has changed over the years and not lost any intensity is inspiring. This is a moody, noisy post-punk record that feels as cohesive as if the band had been playing music like this since they started 10 years ago.
Favorite song- The Separation

Elder - Lore
These riffs are mountains crumbling, heavy and unstoppable. Mount Riff is erupting and falling down and it sounds amazing.
Favorite song- Deadweight

Funeral Advantage - Body Is Dead
This is some spectacular dreamy pop from Massachusetts where a lot of bands I like are hanging out these days. Spacious and warm at the same time.
Favorite song- Gardensong

Colleen Green - I Want To Grow Up
Not lo-fi this time this record has Colleen Green expanding to a full band sound and writing some of her best and *ahem* most mature poppy punk songs yet. Probably the most fun record on this list!
Favorite song- Pay Attention

Knife Pleats - Hat Bark Beach
We as a culture do not deserve Rose Melberg but here she is fronting another band that feels like home. An excellent jangly pop record that has what seems like a renewed focus and stands on it’s own in Melberg’s impressive discography.
Favorite song- Terrible

Loma Prieta - Self Portrait
Still as heavy and serious as ever but with added subtlety and a little more light gets in this time. I have been floored by everything since Life/Less and this is no different.
Favorite song- Nostalgia

Longings - S/T
A killer LP of gothy punk rock from Western Mass. I would go so far as to compare their sound to the Wipers. Most bands that get compared to the Wipers don’t pass muster, to me Longings does.
Favorite song- Critical Conditions

Mac McCaughan - Non-Believers
Yeah, no shit Seth, idiot. If you are an obsessive Superchunk fan you actually get even more records to be unhinged about with Mac’s Portastatic output and now his first LP under his name. Never disappoints.
Favorite song- Wet Leaves

Modern Pain - Peace Delusions
While I guess it’s fun to pretend like your band is from the east coast in the 80’s or something (?) I have always gravitated towards heavier hardcore possibly made by weirdos. Not sure if Modern Pain are weird but this record is heavy, angry, and slightly psychedelic in the best ways. It’s a noisy fucked up hardcore LP that builds on the sound of the past but makes it fresh, not an easy thing to do.
Favorite song- When the Hymn Fades

Jessica Pratt - On Your Own Love Again
Poppy Psych Folk (psych to indicate it feels cosmic to me) Recorded at home but incredibly full and lush which speaks to Jessica’s attention to detail. Great song structures and vocals that make one think “Wait did she just do that? and it worked? Really well?” Hell yes. Every piece fits together masterfully.
Favorite song- Greycedes

Radioactivity - Silent Kill
Pop punk from Denton, Texas This album is a little smoother than the last one (a little) but still rips through the tracks and is over before you know it and then you want to listen again. If they keep putting out records I will keep putting them on my lists most likely.
Favorite song- Where I Come From

Stove - Is Stupider
A latecomer to the Babber 20 but one of the strongest. This is heavy and fuzzy in a way too many bands just don’t know how to do. Like some of the best 90s alternative rock with a modern urgency and an intense grasp of what the songs and album should sound like.
Favorite song- Wet Food

Swervedriver - I Wasn’t Born To Lose You
Swervedriver put another record out and it rules. Dark indie rock with shoegaze flourishes. I like to think that this LP should show everyone that 99th Dream was a better record than it got credit for at the time. I Wasn’t Born To Lose You builds on that sound and creates not just an excellent “comeback” LP but an excellent album.
Favorite song- Last Rites

Tamaryn - Cranekiss
It’s lush it’s poppy it’s dancy and it just goes to show you that nothing I think about music is accurate or valid because I thought this was going to be a breakthrough record for Tamaryn. It is still an amazing record and good for almost any occasion.
Favorite song- Sugar Fix

Wet Petals - S/T II
My favorite screamy emo hardcore record of the year. The songwriting is intricate and well thought out with brutal vocals that work with the sound, Excellent example of pushing the genre.
Favorite song- II // afterpastures

Windhand - Grief’s Infernal Flower
Heavy and sinister doom done to perfection. This album makes you feel desolation but also exposes you to dangerous levels of riffs. So heavy.
Favorite song- Kingfisher

Winter Break - S/T
16 year old Seth would probably be happy that I am still putting Asian Man Records LPs on my best of lists (recent former AMR releases on the lists Hard Girls and Great Apes) but fuck that kid, he didn’t know anything about anything and wore a Skankin’ Pickle shirt way too much. Winter Break write great poppy emo punk songs with strong riffs and catchy as hell melodies. Super fun live.
Favorite song- Who’s Watching

Worriers - Imaginary Life
Intelligent and well done pop punk with great guitar work, personal lyrics that create a vivid feeling of the content, and my favorite bass tone on any pop punk record I heard this year.
Favorite song- Unwritten

EPs, Splits, Demos, and Studio Projects (not in alphabetic order)
-Raein/Ampere Split
-Happy Diving EP
-Kindling EP
-Working Through Rust - bandcamp studio project
-Pretty Flowers EP
-Mercury Girls Demo

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