If anyone goes to discogs page and looks under your name, they will figure out there are 3 whole pages of bands and releases where you did vocals or were involved in any way. What keeps you moving forward? Where does Chris look for all the inspiration and anger packed in those lyrics and songs?
Whoa, 3 pages? I guess it has been a busy run. Hey, I like this 3rd Person thing, I’m joining in. Chris just has a lot of issues to work out. He’s an angry teenager wrapped in a failing middle aged body, and the things that made him angry and alienated at 16 only prove themselves more true instead of less realistic the older the fucking guy gets. He never came to terms with adulthood, authority or reality, so he’s stuck in that state of grace like he just heard the Dead Kennedys for the first time and realized everything was bullshit. Like Han Solo except instead of carbonite he’s frozen in society’s bullshit.
I gotta admit Left for Dead is my favorite one. What is going on with it? You did some reunion shows, released remixed discography and all of sudden it stopped? Was it meant to be like that?
There was a lot of old shit between us as people to resolve, so it was really great at first and for a lot of the shows, but THEN what do you do? It’s not meant to be ongoing for years. The novelty of it wears off fast. But we got to play to kids that love LFD but were babies at the time as well as see some old friends and play with bands we worshipped back then like Infest and Dropdead. But some of us are at opposite ends of the political and lifestyle spectrum at this point in life, and it didn’t make sense to rehash this band any further in light of that and when we all still play in our own present-tense bands. If you still love hardcore and have it in you, then do it, or don’t. But I was stoked on the new songs we wrote even if we only got as far as one out of the four 7″es we had planned, and it felt great when it came out sounding exactly the same like no time had passed at all. So no, it wasn’t meant to end like that but everything falling apart into chaos is also the most fitting ending to LFD if you know us and our commitment to failure.
I watched Left for Dead reunion show on youtube and I watched Sect show live last summer in Europe. One thing that is impossible to not notice is your energy that left me breathless and you voiceless most definitely. Therefore, how do you manage to do tours when it seems like you are losing your voice after every show?
Shit man, thanks. I definitely have no proper system for singing but screaming my guts out, which usually ends in bloody spit and laryngitis, and I just push out air for however many days after that, but thankfully for hardcore it seems to work. It sounds strange but I have to wreck my voice to get it back, open up the scars in there, and then it’s good to go for a while.
I think she’s dead. We couldn’t get it together to practice in over 2 years and we live 5 minutes apart, I think that’s a sure fire sign of The Death.
Can you tell us more about your collaboration with band “Fucked Up”? How did that happen?
I played drums in Fucked Up at the very beginning and for a show or two that I don’t even remember who else played what, it may not even have been FU yet. Mike had played bass in Ruination and cut out after the Don Fury session (the Dead Horse 7″) and a tough US tour. Back then we would all always be switching instruments around and jamming something else out just to see what happened. In that case FU came out of Mike, Josh and I jamming and writing rudimentary versions of what became the first riffs/songs at the Swarm’s jam space in downtown Toronto. It was really Mike’s baby, and it amazes me what he and all the people involved since then accomplished and for how long. Very proud of my friends in that band and all they’ve survived and left behind to show for it.
Even though band members don’t live very close geographically, “Sect” managed to release 2 LPs in 2 years and to do some tours in between. What is the recipe for managing this kind of good organization? Also, what are your future plans?
Do you know that John Candy movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles? It’s a lot of all those things (I’m writing this on a plane on the way to Sect’s first California shows). We just all have to travel a lot but it’s worth it. I often drive Toronto to Raleigh (in Euro terms you’d go through like 8 countries in that much drive) for Sect practice. We try to do a straight week of jamming and writing when we all can. Scott, Jimmy and Steve are in NC, so Andy and I usually come there, or we all meet up a day or two ahead of shows like we’re about to tonight and jam in whatever place we’re playing. We get a lot done for people who live so far apart and between 2 countries. We’ve managed to play steady 3-4 show runs of shows every 5-7 weeks for 2 years now, and it somehow works out perfectly. Scott and Jimmy are the organizers in the mix, they do all the footwork and logistics better than I ever could or would want to, but we all contribute our parts to it. Future plans? We’re trying to come back to the EU and try to do a proper tour in a van as soon as we can all pull it off with everyone’s home, work and band life schedules. We’ll hit any places we haven’t yet, and go back to the ones that we like the most. That’s all the plan I can think of.
Is there any of your old bands, that don’t work anymore, that you would be glad bringing back from the dead?
After LFD and the way it went – no, not really. I wouldn’t rule it out but the only ones I’d want to do would be for the sake of hanging out with old friends I’m still tight with and who are still involved in this, like Ruination. But those bands weren’t big enough then (or trying to be) that anyone’s asking for it now. The Swarm is out for the same reason Cursed won’t ever happen (despite the annual April Fools rumors), people that are off the map and relationships irreversibly damaged. But if hardcore is still part of your real life and ideals, as it is with Sect, then it’s way more worth investing your energy in the living at this point and in current conversations than nostalgia acts.
Is there any type of music or kind of band you wanted to make but never got the chance to?
I always thought at the time that the next project I was doing was really different, when it was really like 4% different or was intentionally tuneful in parts (like BL) but it’s always still basically angry hardcore punk that comes out of me, whether one band has more doom, thrash, mosh or whatever elements. I always wanted to make a concept record and there’s one I’ve been planning out for years with field recordings and songs going in and out of each other. And closer to home I’ve been talking to some friends for a few hears about a more theatrical sludge project with spacier elements and fun with lights, but it’s a bigger picture ambition and will probably take years more.
Do you believe there was any chance for any of the bands you were involved in to become popular enough so you could pay your bills just from making music?
Hah. If that was ever the goal, I fucked it up hard, front to back. No, never a thing. Which is fine. Keeps you hungry, desperate and honest wth yourself.
What’s your opinion on the bands doing reunions obviously for the financial reasons?
It’s dangerous, that kind of nostalgia, because they’ve run through the obvious list and now it’s down to the real cult bands, which strike a way deeper nerve in this whole story. I was so nervous when LFD played with Infest and so relieved when they destroyed. My guideline of whether I care or not is basically whether the people involved continued making music and contributing to this culture in the time in between or not. I don’t think you can take a band like Chain of Strength, divorce it from what it was explicitly about and say “whatever dude, it was just some tunes” when the tunes themselves literally say “hey this is more than just music, and if I’m ever saying otherwise in the future don’t believe me”. It’s just karaoke at that point, and who cares? I have great memories of my favorite bands and I’ve honored how their music impacted my life, but I keep it locked in a safe most of the time. And fuck, for what hardcore actually is, there’s a band of 18 year olds somewhere right now that sound like Septic Death and don’t even know it. I’d rather see that in a room of 30 people than watch someone that hasn’t strapped on a guitar since their now-cult band ended in 1992 drag out its corpse and cash in their chips so someone can make a running shoe about it in 2018.
If it wasn’t for hardcore, do you think you could somehow still get close to veganism and straight edge?
No, I owe it 100% to hardcore specifically. I was really lucky to come into it at the time and place I did. I want to say I would have straightened out on my own but it was really the exposure to a subculture that was just as destructive and antisocial but rose above those comforts and confronted what drives us to them, that showed me I could be a cynical, productive and angry person and call bullshit on industries that suck the life out of people, at the same time.
What media do you choose as most reliable one to get information regarding politics and what’s going on in the world?
That’s a fantastic question. It’s really important especially now that censorship doesn’t look as obvious but is a worse hindrance to our worldview and perception of reality than ever, to find your sources of information that you can trust. And it’s not one magic solution but a chain of them. I try to get closest to the origin of the information before it takes a slant, to the right OR left. I find Reuters good for that. I go between the Guardian or BBC World News for the more mainstream outlets, the Atlantic or the Independent in the middle, and I go to Truthdig (particularly Chris Hedges), Democracy Now and the Intercept for my full-on angry leftist confirmation bias. Above all, looking for real journalism holding power to account and not getting swept up in emotional, triggered button pushing is important. It’s real journalism that is being eradicated everywhere as authoritarianism ramps up worldwide, the free press has always been the first target. And you also have to recognize that there are things like RT that are deliciously cynical and anti-western geared to people like us, but that these can also be propaganda loaded with subtext, which is exactly what you want to get away from in the first place.
Drug cartels took over Mexican avocado production. Is it still straight edge to eat avocado?
Shit man, I hope so. I might have to firestorm myself if not, and I don’t know how to execute that. Pretty much any valuable commodity or natural resource is run by cartels, whether you call them Sinaloa or Monsanto.
Some vegan cousine basics does great harm to the environment. Like avocado and almond cultivation drys out California, the growing soy production and palm tree oil production causes deforestation in Latin America and Asia. What do you think about these issues?
It’s tough. I make vegan food products for “a living” (aka I work for free) and there’s a lot to steer around. The palm oil game is terrible and it’s in everything. Further complicating it, the earth/forest/orangutan-
I got the impression that nihilism is a main ingredient in almost all the projects you were involved in. What could you say about this philosophy and its impact on forming you as a person?
It was never an intentional thing, although I read too much dire existential literature way too young and that got in there deep. A lot of philosophies have impacted my thinking, but I think that under all the aggro of what I write is an underlying belief that it’s worth trying to fight your fights even when it’s extremely unlikely you’ll ever see or achieve your utopia. As ugly or fatalistic or pessimistic or straight up suicidal as it gets at points (ie LFD), it’s frustration with a world that I just want to be better, more WORTH the frustration. I write the worst things that I feel for the express purpose of letting some of the weight of them out, with people that I trust understand it whether they agree or not. It’s the one thing that’s kept me from acting on those thoughts my whole life. And if it turns out to be helpful to other people in my world dealing with the same thoughts and weight, then all the better if it turns that despair into something useful to someone in real life.
What is your stance on antinatalism?
Its like a grown up version of “I never asked to be born”. It’s interesting but I find it bratty to read a philosophical importance into your own birth, something that is really just animalistic and random, since you can’t qualify a greater power any more than a religious theist could, and you could stop being alive any time you wanted to. Life happens, death is certain and no, there may be no measurable point to you. Deal with it. Maybe you just have low blood sugar. Eat an apple and come back to this in 20m.
I got a vasectomy at 27. That’s my contribution to antinatalism. Who has any frame of reference for nonexistence anyway?
Your prediction on the most possible scenario on how human race is going to end its existence on Earth? You may also include the most funny one you could imagine.
I think the sheer aversion to sacrifice and hard work (give me convenience or give me death, literally) is the final nail in our coffin. The answers and technologies are right in front of us, but the apocalyptic factor is collective complacency in disrupting the economy, up to the very last second. That’s what’s got us to this point and is taking us over the edge as we speak.
AI and the speed of its evolution is a real threat now. The prospect of creating something powerful and fully aware that it’s creator is obsolete isn’t science fiction anymore, and we treat the idea of the Singularity as far fetched, that it could grow out of our control but we’re building it to what WE would do by default, and that is to dominate, but with no mistakes, nuance or sentimentality. Were short steps away from AI that creates other AI outside of our authority, and we’re building no safeguards or limits into it that would stop it from going that last half step. I think that’s one possible end of humanity within our lifetime.
Draining the ecosystem we live off to the last dollar, to the point of starvation or war over resources, that one looks pretty tasty as well. Either way it plays out, it boils down to consciously giving up on ourselves and the idea of a future. I think we’re just going to choose to die out. That’s also the most funny one I can imagine.
Since you have an amazing inspiration to write lyrics, have you ever thought of writing a poetry book, novel or some kind of philosophy?
I do write and publish various art, photo and literary things, on a friend’s label Permanent Sleep, and have a bunch of writing projects in the works that take me forever to finish. I think whatever I’m leaving behind in those 3 pages on Discogs covers the philosophy part.
While we are there, which writer or philosopher got to you the most?
You son of a bitch. That’s hard, and pulls so many overlapping categories onto each other. Good thing it’s a long plane ride. Well like I said, I read heavy shit way too young, like Waiting For Godot, Lord of the a Flies, The Stranger, Sartre and a heaping pile of Orwell. I can safely say that 1984 impacted me at 15 in ways that I never outgrew and are coming full circle in reality at 43. I’d say it was Beckett for the absurd repetition and tedium of a life without discernible meaning, Camus and Kafka for the embracing of alienation, Rimbaud for the youthful romanticism of death, Salinger for laugh-crying at how little you can trust the world of adults, Henry Miller for harsh and indefensible crudeness hiding a secret vulnerability and love of people, and Paul Bowles for the idea that comfort is a harmful illusion, that even violence contains profoundness, and the notion that if nowhere is ever home, then anywhere can be. Honest answer.
I read somewhere that you also have a great passion for photography. Can you tell us more about that?
I like’a to take’a ze pictures.
Is the fanzine culture alive these days? Do you think young people do get involved in making zines or is it just an old habit and routine of old school punks?
There aren’t many right now that I follow but then zines are small and local usually, so I’m sure there are many good ones that I’m unaware of out there. But I don’t think we’re gonna see another naturally occurring Hardware, Cometbus or Dear Jesus in the post-Internet age. Zines were the product of analog times when it was our main means of spreading information and opinion other than face to face. 90% of us now are getting show info on Facebook and finding new bands on Bandcamp either way. But I can see how it’s a useful exercise for anyone growing up now to feel out creating something physical like that, especially since it’s so alien to the world around them.
What’s the country you never got the chance to visit with any of your bands so far but would love to?
Southeast Asia, Iceland, Ireland, South Africa, North Africa (if that’s a thing), and everything south of the US.
Name some of the active bands on Canadian scene we should not miss out on?
Neil Young, he’s a bit nasally but he’s a good up and comer to look out for. Leonard Cohen is definitely turning heads. I don’t fuck with Drake but I like The Weeknd for real. What else? Ok: Radwan from Cursed went on to an amazing project called Jerusalem In My Heart, which is some kind of ethereal Arabic hypnotic electronica (on Constellation), worth checking out. Timber Timbre is a dumb name but an all time great band (start with Creep On Creepin On). US Girls (Meg Remy) rules. Punk, Indy and hardcore-wise, all the really good bands up here come and go really fast, never get their due until they’re dead or no one ever knows they’re Canadian, like Godspeed You Black Emperor. My favourite semi-recent band in Toronto is called HSY. But there’s a ton more. Teenanger. Drogue. The Omegas. Mad Men. FU. SHIT. Career Suicide continues to be the best Canadian punk band since the first wave. And on a weirdo sludge note, if you like Cursed or the Melvins, try to find anything by Kittens (Winnipeg, 1990s). Long defunct but they’re the one to beat. Also, fuck Rush.
When are you going to finally “fuck the popularity contest” and start organizing that “murder contest”?
I don’t think I HAVE to anymore, it’s all just happening by itself at this point. What am I supposed to do with this much ricin, Ebola and anthrax now? Can you compost it?
What is so goddamn interesting about hockey?
Pro tip from a real Canadian: Fucking NOTHING is interesting about hockey. Also, fuck Rush.
It’s also interesting that you came up with a special sauce – “Vegan Magic” – also known as “Magic Vegan Bacon Grease” – managed to patent it and now you even made business of that. How well is that going?
It’s total bullshit, the world of commercial vegan food, especially right now when everything is either getting bought out or snuffed out by big money, and it breaks my brain every day and I haven’t paid myself yet 5 years in…but I get to make vegetable based alternatives to animal foods (there’s 4 or 5 now) and see regular people take to them and I don’t have a boss so fuck it, that’s cool.
You are also well-known for being a good cook. Do share some simple but awesome recipe with our readers.
Damn, who have you been talking to? I’ll take it! I make food for a living but at home I really just cook basic shit requiring little patience or skill, and put tahini in or on anything I can.
When we met at Fluff fest, you said you liked “Serbian film”. What did you like about it?
I like how it plays around with the western misconceptions about the Eastern Bloc, and I’m not one for liking movies just because they’re shocking (I get nothing out of Saw/Hostel etc). Or rather, I like movies that are genuinely morally confrontational, not just physically sadistic. On the rare occasion they can do both, like Martyrs. I liked that Serbian Film went straight for all the taboo things you’re not supposed to go anywhere near (even the suggestion of it drew outrage), but the guys own story was also a semi believable premise and it made for a good movie, I thought.
Are you a fan of extreme cinema? If yes, can you tell us more about it and maybe recommend some movies?
I worked in a cult video store for 14 years. It was heavy on the horror, docs, exploitation, banned films and everything in between. So, yes. I’m a horror nerd, but I’m a lot more into psychological dread and genuinely confrontational ideas than just physical gore, unless it can manage both. Movies from the perspective of a person having a realistic mental breakdown and who can’t trust reality but still have to work through it and stagger through real social interactions despite or on top of what they’re seeing or hearing, terrify me. Because of my own mental health experiences I can picture that enough to fear it. Let’s Scare Jessica To Death, Robert Altman’s Images or more recently Take Shelter are good examples. Any movie where someone is dead and doesn’t realize it yet, freaks my shit out. I could go on way too long with recommendations but off the cuff: Rolling Thunder, In A Glass Cage, la Madra Muerta, Rituals, Deathdream, the Changeling, Ganja and Hess, Carnival of Souls, Fitzcarraldo (Herzog), Night of the Eagle / Burn Witch Burn, I Stand Alone (Noe), Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia, Race With The Devil, Vampyr (Dreyer), the Beyond (Fulci), Hour of the Wolf (Bergman), The Celebration, the Holy Mountain, any and everything by Bela Tarr, Scum, Eyes Without a Face, the Devil’s Rain, Rashomon, Day of Anger, Brain Candy (KITH), Elevator to the Gallows, The World The Flesh and the Devil, Escape 2000 / Turkey Shoot, Seitan (Turkish Exorcist), Husbands (Cassavetes), At Close Range, Walkabout, Sexy Beast, the Oily Maniac (Shaw Bros), Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, Autopsy (Giallo), all of Coffin Joe, Tombs of the Blind Dead, Network, Street Trash, The Devils (Ken Russell), Blast of Silence, the Bride Wore Black, Thriller / They Call Her One-Eye – these are a few of my favorite things. Oh and a little Italian horror movie called…La Setta (The Sect). That list should keep you busy for a minute.
Favorite Harry Dean Stanton movie?
Holy fuck, is that your real last question? That’s awesome. I wish this was everybody’s last question. He was so seldom used for lead roles that we took him for granted. It’s hard to fuck with Paris Texas. But it’s impossible to fuck with Repo Man. So I’ll say both.
Also, fuck Rush.
Interview by Zaviša