Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chokehold interview with: Jeff {Guitar}, Matt {Drums} & Jon {Bass}. 1995.






*This interview was done with, Jeff, Matt & Jon from Chokehold. This was done in Albany, NY...on November 5th, 1995. They were more than willing to do this interview & were really nice, interesting guys. It was also a bone~chilling cold night up in Albany. Anyways... Check it out...

VISTA: Can you give us a brief history of the band?

Matt: The band started in 1991. Kind of really badly. I mean, just messing around. Then we changed our line~up. We started really playing out in 1992, sometime. Then we did a few tours and our line~up changed again...then we got Jon {bass} and our other guitarist, Matt and just toured some more and now we're here.

Jeff: This will be the last line~up change, ever.

VISTA: I heard a rumor Chokehold is breaking up...Any truth to that?

Matt: We heard that before.

Jeff: I don't know, so...

VISTA: So, you're not breaking up?

Matt: Eventually.

VISTA: Is there any real meaning behind the name, "Chokehold"?

Jeff: No, not really.

Matt: It came from a hockey game. A commentator said it while we were looking for a name. We had so much trouble picking out a name, because everything we picked out seemed, somehow there is another band somewhere, named whatever. So, what we did was pick a really stuid name and it worked. No on else would name themselves that.

VISTA: What's the current line~up of Chokehold and who does what?

Jeff: Matt on drums, Chris still sings, Jeff on guitar, Jon on bass, and Matt on guitar. That's the current line~up.

VISTA: Where did the samples come from, for the album, "Content With Dying"?

Jeff: "Young Republicans Youth Choir" vinyl that we found in Georgia.

VISTA: Before the song, "Sidetracked"...there is a sample of a reporter speaking about the O.J. Simpson trial...What are your feelings on that trial?

Jeff: Basically, that whole song is just about how fuckin' wrapped up the North American society was in the O.J. Simpson trial.

Matt: It's about t.v. in general, because if it's not O.J. Simpson, It was the Gulf War and so on.

Jeff: It's just a media diversion.

Matt: There was real shit going on out there, but all anyone cared about was O.J. Simpson.

Jeff: I personally think the whole trial was bullshit. There's Jamaal in Philadelphia, on death row for something he didn't even do, and he can't even get a fuckin' trial. Then, he writes a book and they weren't even gonna let him publish it, because he's getting black support and stuff like that for his trial, when it comes about...And O.J. Simpson makes 10 million dollars off a book. It's total garbage. It shows you exactly what our society is structured on...Is if you have enough money, you can do whatever you want.

VISTA: Recently Chokehold toured Europe, how long was that for & how was that?

Matt: We were there for 6 weeks, but the tour was for, 4 weeks. It had its ups & downs. There were a few things we didn't like about it, then there were things that we liked about it, so it equaled itself out.

VISTA: Any big differences between the kids there and here?

JEFF: I don't know...People who were straightedge and people who were into hardcore...just using straightedge as an example, but everyone who's into hardcore...they stick with it. I mean, the average was like, 25, 26 years old. People there have been into it forever, and they don't go to college and just forget about what they did when they were a teenager, like they do here {U.S.A.}. That was really cool. There, there's no age barring. There's people like, in their 40's doing records and putting on shows.

Jon: I found a lot of differences between people in Europe and people here, not just hardcore kids...just everybody...they are a lot more sincere. If they say, "I'm gonna write you a letter", It's true, they are gonna write you a letter. People from Europe call us, just to talk. I don't know, it's weird. I don't want to say like, kids are nicer or anything, but a lot of times people in North America say, "oh, I'll call you", or whatever, but they don't really mean it. People in Europe are a lot nicer in that way.

Matt: It also seems like, the hardcore over there is a lot more politically centered than what it is in North America.

Jeff: I don't know, we didn't come across too many goofy bands. There were maybe one or two that we played with, you know, the only sign was straightedge or whatever. For the most part, most of the bands, even if they were straightedge, they were really politically centered.

VISTA: Speaking about straightedge, do you think the hardcore scene has been divided between straightedge and non~straightedge, and vegan and non~vegan?

Matt: I would say it's definitely divided. For an example, we played at the Columbus Festival that happened in the summer time, and there were straightedge kids and the regular hardcore kids, ya know, and the kind of clashed.

Jeff: That was just the idiot straightedge kids that clashed. As long as there are fuckin' morons in the scene, ya know, they're gonna try and make themselves look more moral than everyone else, and preach, and no one wants that shit.

Jon: I don't think straightedge, or being vegan has anything to do with two sides of people getting along or not getting along. There are people who are going to get along, because they interact well with other people, and then there's people that are assholes for different reasons or whatever. I don't think it has much to do with who's straightedge or not. I have tons of friends who I love who aren't straightedge, and aren't vegan or whatever and it doesn't bother me.

VISTA: Are all you guys straightedge?

Jon: Yeah, we're all straightedge and we're all vegan.

VISTA: Would you all be able to co~exist with a band member who wasn't straightedge or have you, in the past , had members who weren't straightedge?

Jeff: We have always been a straightedge band, but it's not what's the most important thing to us. The most important thing to us is that we're getting our ideas out and what we think. Everyone who has been in the band has been straightedge and has been vegan.

Jon: I was straightedge before I came into the band but straightedge has never really been something I've been into. I mean, the typical like, "straightedge scene"...that's a stupid thing to say, but the typical straightedge scene, just like the "mosh" type music and stuff, I was never really involved in. I really dislike a lot of it personally. Politically, I agree with this band and politically I agree with straightedge. The fact that I'm straightedge has very little focus on my life at all. It just seems like, politically, an obvious thing to do. And it's just good for me right now. I mean, like I said, I'd have absolutely no problem with being in a band with people who weren't straightedge. I have no problem with drug use or drinking. I have no problem with smoking, but I mean, I have a problem with abuse. I have no problem with use at all. I mean, I have a lot of friends who do it, and that's fine.

Matt: We also had a guy fill in for us on bass a year ago who wasn't vegan.

Jeff: Everyone who has been in the band has been along the same lines. I don't know, veganism, I think it would be pretty important, that if someone was gonna be a member of the band permanently that they either...not to make recommendations or anything, but it would help us out on our own beliefs and stuff, you know, our songs. We're not gonna have someone who eats meat in the band, because that's just not what we're trying to say, as a band, and that would be kind of contradiction. I don't think the straightedge thing is really that important. I mean, to me personally it is. I guess maybe because, I've always been in the band and we started the band, and it started as a straightedge band...it just progressed from there. I would just like to keep it that way.

VISTA: Were any of you guys in any other bands prior to Chokehold?

Matt: Just some goofy bands that never did anything really.

Jon: I've been in a few bands other than Chokehold. I've only been in Chokehold for about 6 months, but I've been in lots of other bands before that.

VISTA: What bands are you guys into listening to?

Matt: GROUNDWORK is a great band. The current OUTSPOKEN 7inch is great.

Jon: I like old Kraus records. I like the EMBRACE record. Mid to late 80's Discord {records} music. I love FRAIL. I like INFEST. I like a lot of jazz and a lot of different stuff, too.

Jeff: Everyone has a lot of different tastes. I don't think anyone in the band actually...except for maybe Chris, listens to anything that's just coming out now, like the shit on Victory Records or that stuff. I don't know, do you?

Jon: No.

Jeff: I'm not even motivated to listen to any of these newer bands, like whatsoever. I listen to a lot of older stuff like, INFEST and that kind of stuff.

VISTA: You guys did a cover of, "We're Not Gonna Take It" by TWISTED SISTER...was there any particular idea behind that, and was that a band that you guys liked when you were growing up?

Jeff: I think everyone liked it at one time.

Jon: I use to like TWISTER SISTER.

Jeff: It's a funny song. It's a funny band. At the same time, their lyrics are kinda cool. I mean, their lyrics aren't cock rock lyrics.

VISTA: I remember reading old rock magazines about how TWISTED SISTER was really big in Canada...did any of you guys ever see them live?

Jeff: No.

Jon: I've never seen them.

Matt: Didn't you read his book?

Jeff: Yeah, I read, Dee Snider's "Teenage Survival Guide".

Jon: I was like, in grade six, so...

Matt: You just jumped around in the bedroom.

VISTA: When not recording or touring, what do you guys enjoy doing outside of music?

Jeff: I tattoo and I enjoy doing it and it's kind of a way of making money. I like hockey.

Jon: I don't like any sports. I just play guitar a lot, and I like mountain biking and skateboarding. Just traveling around. I put on some shows and I distribute records & stuff, for fun.

VISTA: Any reasons why you didn't do any other releases through, Conquer The World Records, as opposed to Bloodlink Records?

Matt: Yeah, there were bigger reasons why we changed labels...just because we didn't like the way his label is run.

Jeff: I truly believe now, there is no perfect label. It's impossible to be happy with anything, so. But Bloodlink, we thought was a good label. We just wanted to get our message out. It didn't matter what it looked like, or how glossy it was, or this and that. I don't know, it seems like there's a lot of bands that seem like, as long as their stuff looks good, it doesn't matter what it contains, ya know? I mean, I wouldn't mind putting out something that looks nice, for once.

Jon: Some balance, somewhere between glossiness and content.

VISTA: The only thing I didn't like about the Conquer The World CD was, it didn't come with lyrics sheets or song titles & stuff like that.

Matt: It's suppose to have all that.

Jeff: It's suppose to have a booklet. But, the main purpose of Conquer The World , is for him to make money and pay his rent, and eat...and without woking at it because he has no other skills whatsoever.

Jon: The band had nothing to do with anything that happened with that release. It was just a bad job done by him on that release.

Matt: At some point, that was coming out on Conquer The World Records, we were working on the 7inch {Instilled} at te time for Bloodlink. We kinda put that aside. All we said was, we didn't care what the cover had on it, but he didn't get lyric sheets or even a song list on it.

VISTA: My friend bought me the 12inch vinyl {thanks, Mike}...which does have the lyric sheet. I was happy to get that, because it's kinda hard to figure out the lyrics.

Jeff: I don't think we're...escpecially me, we're not excellent musicians, and that's not our main purpose. Our purpose is our lyrics, and it really sucked that came with no lyrics.

VISTA: Speaking of musicianship, do you have any comment to people out there who say, "Well, Chokehold only play two chords in every song"?

Jon: I have no reason to think of myself as a musicia, or any artist. I'm really into communication. I'm into powerful  music. Good music and good songs aren't necessarily hard songs to play. And, I don't think music should be something that's just for one certain group of people who can afford enough money for a really good guitar, or who can take the time over the years to learn how to play really well. I mean, I appreciate that kind of music, but I also appreciate other music that isn't that hard to play. I'm more into emotion and that kind of communication, instead of musical communication. I mean, for me. That's how I feel.

Jeff: I've read a lot of reviews where they're like, "Learn how to play your fuckin' instruments", and this and that. If that's all they're there for is to listen to good music, then go fuckin' listen to rock n' roll or country & western or something like that. Something that has no content. I don't know, as far as ideas go, that's like 98% of our content and 2% music.

Jon: I like most of the songs, so...Fuck 'em, I don't care.

Matt: A lot of people like it as much as people who don't. I don't know, music is like he said, it's oly one part of it.

VISTA: What's the music scene in Canada like?

Jeff: I think Canada is a lot different than America is, as far as music. First of all, our population is much smaller. Second, there's only certain cities that are main cities. Like here {U.S.A.}, there's main cities every 3 hours, you know what I mean? And that helps out because there's more people and more scenes can start easier where there's bigger populations and cities. If you look at where these bands in Canada are from...there's a couple of bands from each city, but there is only 4 or 5 main cities across all of Canada. But there are some really amazing bands, and it's unfortunate that it's not bigger because it's really hard to tour Canada. I played outside of of our providence once and I've toured Europe and America. And, we're from Canada and we've played outside of Ontario once.

Jon: It seems kind of weird too because in Canada, just because it's so small, a lot of people in hardcore or whatever the hell you want to call it are like, cut off from a lot of the stuff that's going on in the states. A lot of silly trends don't pick up as much. I like being cut off a bit. A lot of people are doing their own thing, that they feel is right.

VISTA: Do you enjoy playing an any articular areas when touring in the United States?

Matt: There are a lot of places that are great. We just came from Philadelphia yesterday and it was great.

Jon: It was fuckin' amazing.

Jeff: Philadelphia has always been really nice.

Matt: Florida is great. Atlanta, Georgia is great.

VISTA: Lyrically, you guys talk/deal with animal rights and animal liberation, and things like that. Are there any organizations you're involved with?

Jon: A lot of those organizations are kinda weird. Like, that PETA organization. A lot of people are into that organization. A lot of the time, I don't feel like they're representing...like, they wouldn't represent me very well. I've seen a couple of ads that they did that I thought were pretty sexist and pretty stupid. That's just my opinion. I don't know, I guess I could be involved with an organization, but I really don't see that point right now.

VISTA: How do feel about "direct action"...Such as breaking into laboratories and liberating animals?

Jon: If you have the guts to do that, it sounds pretty fun to me. I think it's cool. I'm not really for doing that right now. I throw bricks through fur store windows.

VISTA: Yeah, I mean...You really have to go to another level of bravery to do things like that.

Jeff: A lot of times, it's not really gonna change much. You know, it's gonna cause a little bit of financial strain. I mean, it's still cool. I think it's good that they're focusing on companies instead of singling people out. You know, some old lady has a fur coat on and you're gonna harass her? Instead of throwing a brick through a fur store window, you know what I mean...do the one that makes sense.

Jon: I think it's important for direct action and stuff like that. It might not change much, but it definitely communicates something. It definitely puts an idea in someone's face and that's totally important. That's like the only real way to change anything, I believe.

VISTA: When not touring, do any of you guys work or go to school? Also, do you make a living off of music to survive?

Jon: Off this? No. God no.

Jeff: No way.

{LOTS OF LAUGHTER}

Jon: This would be like a reason to have a job. I have no job right now.

VISTA: Do any of you go to school?

Matt: I have a full~time job and I go to night school.

Jeff: I do tattoo's. I work at  a shop, so I can basically take off whenever I want, but we're lucky that way.

Jon: Chris has a full~time job and the other guitarist Matt doesn't have a job.

Jeff: He works on & off.

Jon: He use to be a bike courier.

VISTA: O.K., That's all the questions that I have, anything else you'd like to add?

Matt: Thanks.

Jeff: Thank you very much.

Jon: Thanks a lot.

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