ANTiSEEN: The Tangents "Battle Royale" Interview
There’s no use in trying to describe ANTiSEEN to those few who still haven’t experienced their wrath. With fans all across the U.S. and Europe, the band unleashes this month its latest, and some say their best album yet, "Here To Ruin Your Groove."
To get the full effect of ANTiSEEN’s cauldron-like mix of American punk rock, southern effrontery and all other things evil, we conceived the following interview in the style of another one of the band’s loves, professional wrestling. The four of them- singer Jeff Clayton, guitarist Joe Young, bassist Tripp McNeil and drummer Barry Hannibal- versus our own Carl Fulmer, Cindy Sites, Benjamin Robinson and Daniel Coston in a "battle royale" grudge match to the death.
We also had no referee to get in the way, so any subject was perfectly legal, including repeated reminding that in last month’s issue we mistakenly described something that happened at a Seducer show (McNeil’s other band) as taking place at an ANTiSEEN show.
Tangents: What’s it like being punk rock fathers?
Jeff Clayton: I don’t know. You know what, there’s something I’d like to clear up right quick here. When you mention punk rock, and this is what I told our label today. They sent me over a bio, and it had "punk rock" all through it, and I said, "Well man, if you can stress to the writers and the people reading this that we’re not talking London ‘76, we’re talking America ‘67."
We have nothing to do that stuff from England. No doubt, me and Joe were listening to the Pistols and the Clash, and the Jam and all them, but I think we drew more from the Ramones and the Dead Boys, the Stooges and the MC5 than anybody. Because...we couldn’t identify with all that living on the dole crap...
Joe Young: And all that fake political stuff, like the manager for the Clash spoon-fed them. All that total B.S. leftist politics which none of those people really understood. As far as I’m concerned, the people who do the whole "Rock The Vote" thing for MTV, now they don’t know politics. It’s easy to blow all that B.S. when you’re living at home with mommy and daddy.
Tripp McNeill: I think that music separation is more of an attitude and a visual than it actually is listening to music, ‘cause I’m playing the exact riffs that I played with Seducer, and it’s still "punk rock" all of the sudden. I’m playing the exact same things that I would’ve played in the songs that I write, but it’s now all of the sudden completely different, and it’s not completely different.
Jeff: Tripp and I talk about this pretty often. Why have we been able to last this long? Because from the very beginning, [Joe] and I didn’t pigeonhole us into the whole hardcore punk rock [scene]. In fact, before our first show, we called the band ANTiSEEN, which meant A-N-T-I-S-C-E-N-E. Anti the scene. ‘Cause even from the very beginning, it was a load of shit from the bottom up. You had your scenesters, the people who dictated to the people who were just getting into it what was good, and what wasn’t.
We grew up listening to Grand Funk Railroad. We didn’t stop listening to it just becasue we were getting into this thing they were calling punk rock all of the sudden. We were way more impressed reading the exploits of people like Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard. Even though we came in with the American hardcore movement right along with the rest of ‘em, we didn’t pigeonhole ourselves to where we would like a nostalgia act 15 years down the road.
Joe: People like Jerry Lee and Little Richard, they’ve got way more of what you’d call the original punk rock spirit than Green Day, or Rancid, or any of them people will ever have in a hundred years.
Jeff: The stupid hairdos and shit, we were never into that crap. We always looked the way we looked. We do have an air of putting on a show, being showmen. But that’s from being influenced by Alice Cooper, Kiss and professional wrestling. We always tried to make we do an event.
Even in the beginning when were just four kids up there with just T-shirts and jeans, we blew shit up, we knocked our stuff over. Our first five years of existence, we were banned in five states. Our first and second year, we couldn’t get a show in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. ‘Cause everywhere we went, that was it. "You ain’t coming back."
We’ve done all that mess. All these bands that come up now, like Marilyn Manson and all, thinking these things are new, we were done with it before they knew what to do with it, as my friend Dolemite would say.
Joe: Same thing with GWAR, too. We went through our theatrical stage a couple years before even started playing. I got bored with it. It got too bulky to carry that stuff around.
T: What was your theatrical s--t like?
Jeff: We had heads of punk rockers that we would kick around, and beat with baseball bats and axes...
Joe: ...or blow up, or interact with.
Jeff: We would stick raw eggs in their eyes, and poke them out, and suck the yolk out and spit it.
Joe: Lots of stage props, and lots of explosives.
Jeff: We were also throwing animal inerds at the crowd long before the heavy metal bands ever did it. Long before W.A.S.P. was considered a little bit outta hand for throwing stuff, we were throwing pig’s stomachs, pig’s feet, chicken livers and shit like that. Our shows used to be a stinkin’ mess.
We never got pigeonholed in something that, like I said, fifeteen years down the road would look like we were living in nostalgia. All these bands, like Total Chaos and Rancid, with their mohawks and their spiky hair, to me it’s no different than Sha Na Na. I mean, Sha Na Na ain’t that bad, but it’s the same thing to me. Even though, you know, they’re ten years off the mark, and I guess you can’t expect everyone to have been there when it happened. That may sound a little hypocritical, but that’s why we don’t do it for ourselves.
T: Do you consider yourselves punk?
Jeff: We consider ourselves to be rock n’ roll. We’ll accept punk, we’ll accept metal, we’ll accept hardcore. we’ve been every one of them.
Joe: Punk is a subgenre, and we would be into that. A lot of our songs sound that way, especially the faster ones, but we’ve done songs that were done by country artists, soul artists. We’ve done Curtis Mayfield, Bob Dylan, BTO, an Alice Cooper song, Sun-Ra. We’ve done Hank Williams, George Jones, but to me it comes out with a certain sameness, and it comes out like rock n’ roll, hard rock. It’s our original material, especially the earlier material, which to me sounds more like punk. Sounds like old punk, American punk, like garage punks.
We’ve done Rocky Erikson songs, and we’ve hung out with Rocky Erikson. He was one of the original American punk rockers. He was a punk rocker in 1965. He was a punk rocker when they didn’t have punk on the charts, he had a song on the charts.
Jeff: "You’re Gonna Miss Me," by 13th Floor Elevators.
Barry Hannibal: I’ve never considered ANTiSEEN a punk band. Never, until I got in the band and people started called me a punk. It always was just heavy to me, and that’s what I liked, and now that I’m in the band, I don’t have to buy T-shirts anymore.
T: What differences are there between European fans and say, fans here in Charlotte?
Joe: Well, one thing’s the same. We can pick out the ANTiSEEN fan whether it’s in Texas, or in Austria, or Finland or anywhere.
Jeff: It’s the one that comes in the drunkest...
Joe: ...the loudest, the most obnoxious....
Jeff: ...the one that’s been waiting all month.
Joe: And they usually come alone, or with another guy that he’s trying to convert, and they’ll be loud, they’ll have a stack of records. They’re the same just about everywhere. We’ve got a few of ‘em everywhere we go in the world.
Jeff: I think European fans are more interested in our recording history. You find kids come over there with bags of everything. We’ve got over 50 releases, and they’ll have ‘em all. Even the ones that are really hard to find, like we saw a copy of the first thing we ever did, "Drastic", in a little town in Switzerland. [Joe] and I sat there and cut every one of the covers out, taped them together, folded the insert and shoved the record in every one of ‘em. And there’s one floating around Switzerland. We were just glad the tape held up.
Joe: Yeah, we did comment about that.
Jeff: "Hey look, man, there’s that tape we got at Eckerd’s! Remember?"
T: Jeff, I wanted to thank you for letting us have "Fornication," [for Tangents’ upcoming 7" split single release]. You said that this is a new version of an old song...
Jeff: The first we recorded "Fornication" was in Seattle with Jack Endino. He worked with Nirvana and Mudhoney...
T: A lot of Sub Pop stuff.
Jeff: Yeah, he was one of the guys that got Sub Pop going. We recorded a record with him in ‘92, and over the years we just added certain things to it that it sounds so much better now, and we just wanted to update it.
We’ve got over a hundred songs, but we still wanna go back and record some of the old songs again from time to time, ‘cause we feel like at the time, either the band wasn’t up to par, or our knowledge of what we were doing at the time wasn’t up to par, and we just wanna give some of these songs what we feel is a proper treatment.
T: How many times have you recorded "Queen City Stomp?"
Jeff: It’s been on so many things.
Joe: Barry recorded it with another band before he joined us.
Jeff: That’s something else. We’ve been covered by a lot of bands all over the world.
T: What’s your favorite cover?
Joe: I liked that cover of "Mill Workin’ Man."
Jeff: Poppin’ Mammas from Australia recorded "Mill Workin’ Man." I always liked Rancid Vat’s version of "Face Full Of Teeth."
Joe: The worst was definitely that Bloody Mary that Barry played on.
Jeff: I think that if they’d had a decent bass player...
Joe: No, that was actually a pretty good one. Did Seducer do one?
Jeff: They were trying to do one, but they didn’t realize they were covering one of our covers.
Joe: Which one was that?
Jeff: "Deeds Of The Damned," by Rancid Vat! I was like, "That’s not our song!"
Tripp: And I’m going, "I’ve always loved this one!"
T: When you first started playing, did you think that you’d still be doing this fourteen years later?
Jeff: Joe and I didn’t see draggin’ it out a year. We thought that our biggest goal that we could ever achieve was that maybe one day, we’d have it together enough to put out a single. One record. And fifty records later, and almost fourteen years later...
Joe: ‘Cause it was very difficult to do 7" records back then. Hardly anyone had seven-inchers out back then. People would make homemade dub tapes, hand out tapes. Records were a major undertaking, and if you did, who would buy ‘em? There weren’t 150 people in the whole scene.
Jeff: And [you were successful] only if you could break in the Triangle [area]. The Triangle has always been this thing...
Joe: ...it was holier than thou.
Jeff: We got ourselves banned from there before we even played there! We arranged it so we could not get booked there, just from writing threatening letters to the papers and some of the scenesters up there. It was years before we played there.
T: What response do you get now up there?
Jeff: We get a pretty good response up in Chapel Hill, but Raleigh and Durham is like, "Whatever." But then again, we act as arrogant there as we act anywhere. It could be four people, it could be four hundred people, we’re still gonna act like we own the place. When we’re on stage, we do.
T: How did you hook up with G. G. Allin?
Jeff: , Me and Joe, more of our threatening phone calls and letters. "Hey man, we dare you to bring your one-inch d--k down here to Charlotte!" That’s exactly how that went!"
Joe: He was on this compilation tape that we were on called "North Vs. South." We played all the way through the tapes, ...and a couple days later I said, "Man, pretty much all that stuff on that tape, it just all sucks! Everything on there sounds exactly the same except for our song, and that guy, G. G. Allin and the Scumf--ks." And he said, "Yeah, that was about the only one that sounded decent to me, too."
Then we read an interview with him in some magazine, and he printed his phone number in there, and we called him, and threatened him and dared him to come down. We said, "You’re the only one that we liked on that comp tape that we were on, and we dare you to come down...
Jeff: "We heard you’re so bad. Come on down here." And that night, we got a phone call at two a.m., "You motherf--kers! I’ll come down there and kick your ass! Aahhh!!" "All right! We’ll book it."
Joe: We used to take the answering machine tape to the club, The Church Of Musical Awareness, and we’d play it over the P.A. and tell people, "We’re gonna have this guy here in a couple of months." It took several months to get him down here, but we finally got him down for a gig. Aren’t there some more local bands we can take shots at?
Jeff: Back to your original question about rock n’ roll parents, all of us have daughters, so that may explain why we’re so edgy all the time.
T: That just means that may someday all be the Next Big Thing.
Jeff: What? The New Runaways?
Joe: As long as they’re doing our songs. They may grow up to make us rich someday.
Jeff: I told her if she becomes the Janet Jackson or Paula Abdul, I have no problem with that as long as she keeps her old man up.
Can we have some questions that we can give quick answers to?
T: All right, word association. Grunge.
Joe: We invented it.
Jeff: We invented it, and then we did away with it.
T: Uptown entertainment district.
T: Carolina Panthers.
All: Hell, Yeah!
T: Blockbuster Pavillon.
Jeff: F--kabuncha Lollapalooza. Do we seem bitter? We’re actually pretty sweet.
T: Green Day and the new punk revolution.
Jeff: More power to ‘em if they can make money at it. We sure as hell’ve been trying.
Joe: We made Green Day leave a guy’s house once ‘cause we said coming over there to kick their ass.
Jeff: We were just kidding, too. This guy says, "Hey man, Green Day’s over at whatsisname’s house. You got something to say to ‘em?" And I was like, "Yeah, tell ‘em we’re coming over there to kick their ass," and they packed their shit and got outta there. I had no intention of going over there.
Joe: We were at this guy’s house in Miami. He had a swimming pool, homemade lasagna. Like, we were gonna leave this guy’s house and go over there.
Jeff: If they’d come over there, we would’ve fought ‘em.
T: What’s the worst impersonation of ANTiSEEN you’ve ever seen?
Jeff: Probably Kurt Fisher cutting his head open, except the time I cut his head open, which did happen. We had the whole thing planned, and I think there’s still members of each of our audiences today that think it was for real. The guy I lived wth, Charles, he was about to kill Kurt that night.
T: If you guys had the chance to make a movie, what would the ANTiSEEN movie be called?
Jeff: I don’t know, but it would have kung-fu, black chicks, fire, death, a giant monster that would crush buildings.
Joe: It’d be better than "Pulp Fiction."
Jeff: It’d have a lot of guns. More guns goin’ off than one of those Clint Eastwood italian films.
Joe: There’d be more dope smoking than a Cheech & Chong movie.
T: How much wrestling would there be?
Jeff: Oh, that would be the whole subplot. Wrestling porn, or something.
Barry: We’d wrestling ninjas for the honor of some black women.
Joe: Some dope-dealing black women!
Barry: We love women of color. You can print that!
Joe: I will say the women of color, the hispanic women and vietnamese women are ten times more interesting than the white women, ‘cause the white women in this town are like...
T: Pet Shop Boys.
Jeff: What’s that, "West End Girls?" Hell, yeah.
T: What do you think of brit-pop like Oasis?
Tripp: Ask a brit!
Barry: I have to listen to that s--t at work, and I couldn’t tell Oasis from f--kin’ Hootie and the Blowsnort. But, one day I was flippin’ between Monday Night Nitro and Monday Night Raw, and Oasis was on there, and they were the most cocky, arrogant sonofabitches I’d ever f--kin’ heard in my life. And I liked ‘em. I said, "These motherfuckers are alright." I still don’t know what they sound like, but I like ‘em.
T: What your favorite movie of all time?
Tripp: "The Exorcist." I named my daughter after the girl in that movie.
Jeff: Probably the "Planet Of The Apes" series.
Barry: I really don’t have a favorite movie of all time, but I like "Pulp Fiction", "Dawn Of The Dead", "Planet Of The Apes", "Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure."
Joe: I liked "Vanishing Point." It had a lot of fast cars...
Jeff: "Foxy Brown", "Superfly"...
Joe: I like "Cool Hand Luke"...
T: Kevin Morgan.
Jeff: I will tell you, Kevin was good to us, but then he started ignoring us. He did say that we evoked more emotions than any other band...
Joe: ...good and bad.
Jeff: That made me feel good.
T: Okay, Tangents Magazine.
Tripp: Creative Loafing. Let’s see...
Jeff: Home. (shrugs) It ain’t the greatest place in the world...
T: Milestone Club.
Jeff: That’s where we started, that’s where we issued boycotts. That’s where we got ripped off, that’s where we had some of the greatest shows we’ve ever done, and that’s where we no longer play.
T: Tremont Music Hall.
Jeff: A good idea. I just don’t think Charlotte can support it.
T: Joe, how did G.G. Allin die? I’ve heard so many stories...
Joe: He overdosed, from heroin. He had been here about a week before, he was supposed to do a show with us at the Milestone. He was supposed to come on and do a couple songs at the end. He was out in the van, and he got kinda ticked off. He misunderstood, he thought the Milestone was another club in town where he was scheduled to play, and they cancelled hiim, which has Heretic’s.
So he got ticked off, and walked away with some girl that he was hangin’ out with, who he was traveling with. So he didn’t do the gig, but he called Jeff and apologized a couple days later before he left. So he went back to New york, did a couple of shows, he taped...an episode of the Jane Whitney show, and that’s when he died.
T: Did that bother you when he died, or was it something you expecting to happen years earlier...?
Joe: It kinda bugged me, because I thought that was such a lame way to go out. I’ve just got no respect for anyone who does heroin, or dies from it. As a matter of fact, I’ll just laugh at anyone that dies from it. It makes no difference to me.
I mean, I’m a die-hard libertarian. I think all drugs should be legal. Anything, everything should be legal. Alcohol’s legal, and nicotine’s legal. According to the Surgeon General, nicotine’s just as addictive as heroin. I’ve got no sympathy for anybody who smokes until they got lung cancer, and I’ve got no sympathy for anybody that gets hooked on heroin, and kills themselves. That’s less dumb people breathing my air, that’s how I look at it.
I was ticked at G.G. for abusing it and killing himself, specifically since it was such a lame rock n’ roll way to go out. So many people have gone that way, some that I respected, and some that I did not. Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix.
Jeff: The music of Johnny Thunders.
Joe: I respect the attitude that Sid Vicious portrayed earlier in his career, but I have no respect for those people, the way they went out.
T: Jeff, say something brilliant and controversial.
Jeff: I vow this Halloween show is gonna be something that this town has never seen before, and the only meter we have go by is us. Everybody bring notepads, video cameras, ‘cause we’re gonna take you to school.
T: Later on, we realized that despite the good times we’d had during our interview, we’d forgotten to talk about one small thing: the new record. So we met up with Jeff the following Sunday and got these quotes.
T: Tell us about the new album.
Jeff: It’s the first new studio album we’ve done in three years. In Europe, it’s coimng out on SPV, and in America it’s coimng out on Baloney Shrapnel on CD, and the LP is coming out on Rough Trade Records up in Philadelphia.
It’s got Michael Bruce from the original Alice Cooper band playing lead guitar on "Sick Things," which was a song off the "Billion Dollar Babies" record. Jamie [Hoover] plays organ, piano and banjo on the record.
T: How did you get hooked up with Jamie?
Jeff: I’ve known of Jamie ever since I moved to Charlotte, because of the Spongetones. We met several years back, bacause he was always hanging around Mark Williams from Reflection [recording studio]. Mark always expressed interest in wanting to record us, but back then we thought we knew it all, that we didn’t need anybody’s help.
I don’t remember how we ended going down [to the Washateria] to record for the first time. I know we were given some money to record a single from a label in Belgium. And we were so happy with the way that single came out, we’ve been going down there ever since.
He’s really good. He really does understand where we’re coming from. We don’t have to sit down and explain it to him, he knows what we’re looking for. I’ve taken groups down there to produce, like I sent the Frankenstein Drag Quens down there. And Hellstomper, I produced a record for them recorded down there.
It was really weird taking Mike Bruce down there,’cause Jamie and his wife are big Alice Cooper fans, too. [Jamie’s] worked with a lot of people, but it was just like two kids at a show, me and him sitting there watching Mike Bruce play. His wife even came down to meet ‘em. His wife just usually stays out of it, but she had to come and meet Mike.
We tried all the songs out live for almost a year. We played most of these when we toured with Fear, back in November. It got to where they hadn’t out on anything, and they were the high points in the show. We’re really happy with the song set-up.
There’s a couple different things on there. There’s a full-fledged country song called "Billy The Kid," which Joe Young wrote. He wrote all the music and lyrics, and it took him months to even tell us about it. He didn’t even wanna mess with it. Me and Barry kept telling him, "At least let us hear it." Me and Tripp and Barry pretty much did the arrangement with Jamie, and I thought it came out pretty good. We were all kinda worried of what it was gonna turn out like. We really had never tried anything that different from the beaten path, I guess.
T: Are you thinking about trying out more country songs?
Jeff: If I could find someone to play piano and organ full-time, I’d do it. If we could get someone, yeah. It’d be rough finding someone ten, fifteen years within our age group and would wanna play that kind of music.
T: How long did you tour with Fear?
Jeff: It was a week.
T: Where did you play? In the Southeast?
Jeff: It started in Wilmington, and ended in Philly. We went all the way to Boston and back. New York City, we played Irving Plaza, which is a real big place.
T: How did it go there?
Jeff: Pretty good. I don’t think they knew quite what to make of us. Lee Ving of Fear came out and did "Haunted House" with us in Philly. That was cool. It was funny. Hangin’ out with Lee, he’s this legendary punk rocker, and all we talked about country. That’s what he likes, too.
T: Do you have any singles coming out?
Jeff: There’s a single coming off the "Hell" album that was supposed to have been out in Japan over a year ago. It might see the light of day here soon.
This is also the first album that features new songwriting with Tripp and Barry’s rythym section. Tripp played on the live record, but that was only his third show. we didn’t know it was being recorded, that’s why we didn’t make any mistakes. If we knew it was recorded, it would be the worst show in the world.
T: How do you guys usually write your songs?
Jeff: It’s me and Joe. I’d say that Joe comes up with 80% of the music. I come up with the other 20%. It’s vice versa on the lyrics, I’ll do 80% of the lyrics, and Joe will come up with 20%. We never do, "Well, you do this and you do this." If we come up with a good idea, we’ll show it to everybody, use it or throw it away. We always get together and talk about what topics we wanna touch on, or if it’s just redundant, nothing to worry about.
T: What’s a good motivation for songwriting? Just being pissed off about something...
Jeff: Not always just pissed off, just being affected by something one way or another.
T: When did you first start ANTiSEEN?
Jeff: I think we did our first practicing in August of ‘83, because our first show was in October of ‘83, and we were already headlining then. We headlined a festival called "Punk In The Hills," in Boone, N.C..
T: Who else played that festival?
Jeff: Fetchin’ Bones did their first show there.
Joe: NRG did their first show.
Jeff: A group from Boone called the Opposition, which later had members of Dischord. Whenever we got together, the only objective was, if any band comes into town that we wanna see, we can open for ‘em and we won’t have to pay to get in. That was one good reason to get the band together. And two, we just decided we wanted to be kinda like the Who. We just wanted to smash shit. And then we started talking about how there gonna have to be songs involved.
I guess musically our influences were the Ramones, which I guess you couldn’t tell that, could you?
T: They influenced you because you only had to learn three chords to play.
Jeff: Yeah, we picked the easiest group to be influenced by.
Joe: Sometimes you don’t even have to play three.
T: Did you play in any bands before ANTiSEEN?
Jeff: I did. Nothing you would’ve heard of. Actually, Joe did play in one. He played bass for his brother’s band, and they kicked him out because he couldn’t play.
Joe: I practiced two times, and they wouldn’t let me back after the second practice.
Jeff: I was intrigued, so I asked him to play guitar. I said, "Hey man, you can play, right?" He was like, "Yeah, yeah." He didn’t even own a guitar.
Joe: I’d never practiced. When he asked me, I said, "Yeah, I can play," and actually, I couldn’t.
Jeff: Actually, we met at the Milestone [Club], at the Stimulators show, didn’t we? The Stimulators were this band from New York, and we met there. I told him, "Hey man, I’m a singer in a band," and he was like, "Yeah, right." And he came out and saw our band at the Milestone...
Joe: Y’all played with Minor Threat.
Jeff: And the next time we met and talked was the two members of the Sex Pistols, Paul Cook and Steve Jones, played the Milestone with their group, the Professionals. And we talked out there waiting to get Paul Cook’s autograph. I told him, "Hey man, that band I had broke up. You play guitar, right?" "Yeah, I play guitar." And he was like, "Why don’t you come around the house next week?" I gave him my number, told him where I lived.
That weekend he goes back up to Lenoir, buys a guitar and an amp, and he had his brother show him a few bar chords. So he comes to the house, and I said, Well, what do you wanna do?" And he plugged in, and this amp has this sound, like SCREECH!! He’s going, (mimics guitar playing), DUH-DUN-DUH-DUN! And I was like, "Man, that sounds good."
I didn’t wait to examine, "Does he really know how to play?" I just said, "Hey, can you do this?" And I took the guitar, did that (shows a guitar chord), and he did it.
Joe: Within fifteen minutes, we had written songs that we still play today.
T: Which ones?
Jeff: "She’s Part Of The Scene," Wifebeater," "Jailbait,"
Joe: One or two of those songs we did ended up being songs that ended up on that G.G. [Allin] album. A song called "ANTiSEEN" ended up being on it.
Jeff: We had a bunch of songs that we just used for music when we recorded with G.G. Allin. I’d say about every song we wrote from that first time we sat down and wrote songs together have been used one way or another. We never let s--t go to waste.
T: (to Jeff and Joe) I know you two have been the nucleus of the group. How many other band members have there been?
Jeff: Too many. I’ll put it this way. I wish we had met and gotten along with Barry and Tripp a long time ago. Would’ve saved us a lot of hassle, a lot of heartache, and a lot of bad feelings that are floating around now.
T: Barry, how long have you been in the band?
Barry: Two years. I was gonna answer the ad for the drummer that was in the paper that one time, but I didn’t have the balls...
Joe: Yeah, the first one we ran was probably in 1990.
Jeff: Yeah, ‘cause after Doug quit was when we really worried. "Are we gonna find a drummer?" And we put ads in the paper, and he was telling me about how him and one of his friends were trying to talk other into calling for the audition, and they couldn’t do it.
When Tripp joined, it was a real rushed thing. We were in Germany, and had an opening slot with the Ramones about ten days after we got back. Tom [O'Keefe], who was playing bass for us at the time, decided, "Well, I’m gonna stay here in Germany with my brother for a week."
Just before we’d left, we’d given Tripp a set list of about fifteen songs to learn. We came back and practiced one time. We’d never even considered it. We knew he was a guitar player. We wondered, well, could he even play bass? He was such a good friend of ours, he was really one of our first choices. The other one would’ve been to steal his bass player away from his band.
Tripp: That would’ve been easier...
Jeff: Well, when have we ever taken the easy route for anything? So we did the show, and we were real happy with it. Tom must’ve detected it, ‘cause he suggested, from a suggestion of Tom’s months earlier, that he step down from the bass playing dutiesand take care of the business, ‘cause we’re all such rotten businessmen.
And we asked Tripp if he’d be interested in joining full-time, and he said, "Well, if you decide to get someone else, just let me have the first opportunity to either stay on full-time or not, and that was fair. We knew we could squeeze ten years out of him.
We were seriously considering looking for someone else, Tripp decided he wanted the job, Tom didn’t work out as a business manager and we parted ways...
Joe: Tom and Tripp took turns playing over that one summer.
Tripp: No, it was only just a week.
Jeff: [Tom’s] last show was the tattoo convention here in Charlotte. His amp went out, he had through the P.A., we got into a fight with somebody in the audience.
T: What about Seducer?
Tripp: I just thought I could juggle them both.
T: The only problem is that the two bands get confused in the press...
Tripp: That’s only been done once! We never make a mistake. We love all you people at Creative Loafing.
T: How big are you in Europe?
Joe: We get our own hotel rooms.
Jeff: I even get one by myself.
Joe: I got recognized in Prague. A guy tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Excuse me. Are your from ANTiSEEN?" He was German. I thought, "That’s pretty good for a country boy from Lenoir."
Jeff: We’re on the same label over there as Dio, Molly Hatchet, Lynnerd Skynnard and Hendrix has got a new one comin’ out over there. The first time we went to Europe was ‘92, and that went real good. It was the equivalent of a great U.S. tour where you get paid more. It just works better. It’s a lot more ecomnomical to fly across the ocean and tour Europe for us than it is to do our own tour.
As far as how big we are over there, it all depends on what area you’re talking about. We’ve played to almost a thousand people. I’d say the average is about three to five [hundred], maybe two-fifty, three-something is very average. There’s some town like Bramen, we played there the second year, and they had to turn two hundred people away.
T: How big was the building?
Joe: Six, seven, eight hundred. It was like a hall. It was an unusual club, too. It was a hall that was state sponsored, and if you came in during the day, it was a day-care place.
Jeff: And half of it was an auto-repair place. That’s the thing about Europeans. They don’t believe in wasting any kind of space like that. In fact, a buddy of ours that put out a single for us over there, Tom was taking him through the ritzy neighborhoods here, thinking he was impressed. You know what his quote was? "What a waste of space." You see a woman with a big house and a big yard, in Germany you can put eight families in that house.
That’s the way they look at it.
Joe: The only place I think that we could ever crash in in Europe was that for two years, we stayed at this place in Copenhagen which basically was like a big mansion. But there was twenty people living there. It was almost all kids who had rented the place, and it was a big place, but it was taken over by kids that were sharing expenses.
Jeff: Their expenses are dirt cheap over there, and most of them are government-sponsored because they’re artists, so they don’t work or do shit. And then they start getting leery of us when we start arguing about the money. And we were like, "Well, when you start paying a power bill, you’ll understand."
We’ve played in Berlin three different years. Once we played this place called Huxley Junior. The Church was playing in the room beside us, and we were outside looking at their fans, and they were looking at us. (mimics fans saying, "Hell, yeah.") We got a little bit of a spillover, and we kept walking off stage, and they would not leave. The sound man came from behind the board came back after the show and says, "You guys got three encores! No one does encores in Berlin."
T: What about the rest of the world?
Joe: We’ve got records in Japan and Australia, but we’ve never been there yet. I don’t know how well they sell there.
Jeff: In the states, our biggest draws are in part of the south, Texas, Philly. We did good in California, though, the one and only time we went out there. I guess we’ll have to go back out there for the new album.
Joe: It’s funny. We’ve done about fifty shows in Germany and a hundred shows in Europe, but we’ve only done three shows in California. We did one in San Francisco, two in northern Carlifornia...
Jeff: We did one right after an earthquake.
Joe: We were supposed to do one the day of the Rodney King riots.
Jeff: But all those people got so excited that we were coming, they just lost it. They were looting stores, overturning cop cars. We were like, "Look, if you don’t settle down, they’re gonna cancel us."
Joe: That morning, about three hours outside Los Angeles, we were having lunch, and I read in the paper that they were gonna have the verdict in the paper that day, and I said, "Wouldn’t it be ironic that with all the stuff that happened on this tour," ‘cause we’d had earthquakes, we had snowstorms, we had floods, everything, "we’ll get into town, and they’ll read the verdict, and the verdict will be not quilty. There’s gonna be riots. You wait." And we got into town about three or four hours later, and that’s exactly how it happened.
Jeff: We were riding through L.A. with a loaded shotgun, going... (pretends to be on the lookout)
Tripp: Yeah, it was like that time Barry got arrested by a fake policeman.
Jeff: But I think the staff of Break has always been correct.
T: What was the worst show you ever had...where the crowd just thought you were a shoegazing band?
Joe: That one show in Germany, we stopped after fifteen minutes, it was so bad.
Jeff: Atlanta’s always like that, except for Dottie’s where as soon as we came on, it was like someone turned on the "Fight" sign, and it was a constant brawl.
We never usually stop for fights, but that I had to. There were too many going on. People were getting cut up. But we weren’t like, "Let’s all be peaceful, man." There were skinheads, rednecks and punks, and they were all trying to out-macho one another. I just out in the middle of the floor, and I said, "Hey! You people keep fighting, these women that paid to get in to see me are not gonna be able to. You’re distracting from us." And it kinda made the atmosphere lighthearted for about two minutes, and then it started again.
T: Jeff, are you the God of Hellfire, and if not, what God are you?
Jeff: I’m the God of Hell, Yeah! I’m the God of Raise Hell.
T: What band that you opened up for treated you the best, and treated you the worst?
Jeff: The best was Fear. Fear treated us as equals. I’d say the band that treated us the worst was Danzig.
Joe: And this was when they were playing in clubs for their first album. They were more of a nobody than they are now. They were nobodies, and they thought they were Led Zeppelin.
But I got the last laugh on their roadies. When we set up our gear, they made us set up on the edge of the stage, and said we couldn’t touch or move any of their stuff. I said, "Well, I’d advise you to cover up your gear." They said, "We’re not covering anything." I said, "That’s cool, man. You do what you want." And I pointed at Jeff, who was setting up his gear. I said, "I don’t even like to have my gear on stage when he cuts loose. But I can deal with it and he’ll repay me for anything of mine he damages. But if any of you’re stuff gets fucked up, we’ll be long gone by the time you guys hit the stage, and you’ll have to answer to Mr. Danzig." And I walked away, and the next thing I knew, they were getting sheets to cover up their equipment.
And not to brag, but anybody there that night will tell you that we blew them off the stage. People were walking out on ‘em. They played one or two Misfits songs that were halfway good, but they pretty much cleared the Pterodactyl by about thirty minutes into the show. We had people yelling for encores on us, but they wouldn’t let us play.
Jeff: Any time we’re put in that position, we can put it in high gear so hard, that we even surprise ourselves. Any kind of pressure or something to prove, we’re masters of that.
Joe: To us, that’s competition. Like Tripp and Barry are very competitive, and we’re into athletics. To us it’s like a boxing match or a basketball game.
Jeff: Or like a real f--kin’ sport like wrestling? Not like this fake stuff he’s talking about.
Joe: With Fear, we were treated as equals. We had a cool show every night. All of our shows were good, their shows were good, it was really cool. They came on and played with us. That was fun and relaxed because they made it enjoyable. They didn’t make it into a thing where they were pulling rank on us, or seniority, which they had. Glenn Danzig doesn’t have seniority on us. He’s a punk kid as far as I’m concerned.
There’s a bunch of ‘em that I feel that way about, and they sell out to boot.
T: Please name them!
Joe: Henry Rollins is one. He’s a male model. In every interview he does, he says fifty times that he’s not in it for the money. Anybody that says fifty times in a row how much they’re not trying to make money...
Jeff: Now don’t get us wrong. Given the chance to sell out, we’ll do it.
Joe: I’m all for what the Sex Pistols are doing. I hope they become millionares. They set out to be the pompous band in the world.
Jeff: But since we haven’t been given that chance, we’ll put down everyone else that has. We want ANTiSEEN action figures.
T: What do you think of all these bands from the ‘70s doing summer tours?
Jeff: I think it’s great. I feel like I’m back in high school again. "Hey man! A new Kiss album!"
T: What about Kansas and Styx?
Jeff: I could’ve done without those bands back in ‘75, and I don’t need ‘em now in ‘96.
Joe: I look at it this way. I didn’t like those bands then, and I don’t like those bands now, but some people get something out of it. Those were the people that I didn’t get along with then, and I get along with them now, but if they wana go dig it, that’s their business.
T: So when’s the ANTiSEEN coffeetable book coming out?
Jeff: Funny you should say that, ‘cause we were gonna have a book come out for our tenth anniversary.
T: So you’ll have have one for your fifteenth anniversary?
Jeff: Yep, with scratch n’sniff chapters. It’ll be put out by Baloney Shrapnel.
T: What do you think about most local bands?
Joe: Tell you what, when you do that "local bands" thing [in our December issue], just rattle ‘em off. I’ll give you a review of all of ‘em. It’s gonna be the same one about all of ‘em. Ain’t seen ‘em, never heard of ‘em.
Jeff: There are some goods bands popping up.
Tripp: I still think the best bands in town are the ones that have survived the past ten years. The Buster Rogues and the ANTiSEENs and the Seducers are better than...
T: Is it any coincidence that you’re in two of those bands?
Tripp: Well, Mr. Grooms, you’re right!
Joe: In today’s vernacular, kids and journalists like stuff that’s "fresh." We’re old hat to a lot of people.
Jeff: Vernacular? Hey, you’ve never used that word around me in ten years. You think you know somebody.
Joe: Why don’t you ask Tripp and Barry what’s it’s like to play with old guys that are so revered.
T: What’s it like playing with old farts?
Jeff: Barry says he ain’t in Kiss!
Barry: I always liked ANTiSEEN.
Jeff: Did you like us?
Barry: I didn’t know y’all. I don’t talk to people I don’t know. The hell with ‘em. Before I joined the band, I might talk to [Jeff] a little bit about wrestling. I talked to Tripp a little bit. That’s because he had a football, and I figured football, you could hit.
Tripp: I knew ‘em personally before I heard one note. I was friends with ‘em. I’d already hung out at Repo [Records] with y’all. The first show I ever saw Joe at, I didn’t think he in the band, and I said, "There’s that guy from Repo up there tuning the guitar for the band." And then he never left!
Joe: What show was that?
Tripp: Palomino Club.
Jeff: (groans) Oh man, I cut my head wide open on the first song. I remember the Charlotte Observer was out there taking pictures They were gonna print for their Halloween show that year, and they said they couldn’t print ‘em because it was real blood.
T: Is that a wrestling thing, cutting your head open?
Tripp: Yes it is, Radok!
Jeff: Hey, we would never insult our good friends here at C Magazine.
T: I’m just glad David Lee Roth’s getting back with you guys.
Jeff: Did you hear we started wearing our makeup again?
T: When did you first cut your forehead open?
Jeff: It was the first show, wasnt it?
Joe: Yeah, you did it accidently with the microphone. After years of that shit, I remember when Joe and I were living together, one day I was sitting in the living room, and I was looking at the digital clock, and it was just jumpin’. The numbers were jumpin’. And I said, "Is that clock jumpin’?" "No." "You sure?" "Man, it’s not jumpin’."
Joe: And that was before he was drink in’.
Jeff: I said, "Man, I gotta stop.I gotta find a new way to get the same effect that’s less painful."
T: How many stitches have you had?
Jeff: Man, I don’t know. I owe money all over this country, and in Europe.
T: Do you cut your head every show?
T: Do people feel cheated if you don’t?
Jeff: I could care less. One way to insure it ain’t gonna happen is to get a bunch of ‘em around me going, "Hey man, are you gonna cut your head?" "Nope."
People have tried to analyse that stuff in print, and they are so far off base. "The primal" shit of the music?
T: You do it just to get a rise out of people.
Jeff: Shock value, man. It’s Adbul The Butcher pokin’ out Chief Wahoo’s eyes when I was nine years old.
T: How much did professional wrestling influence your music?
Jeff: I don’t know if it influenced the music so much as it did us as performers.
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