Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Shutdown/The Last Stand interview with guitarist: Stephen Della Croce. January 8th. 2012.

Vista: Hey Steve. Could you give us a brief history of the band? Year started, ex-members & current members. Also, Shutdown has actually been playing on a limited basis again...How did that come about?

Steve: Sure, SD started back in 1994 with all the members going to Xaverian High School in Brooklyn.  Mark Scondotto on vocals, Jimmy McCormack on drums, Anthony Vrettos on bass, and Justin Brennan on guitar. The scene had a real metal feel with breakdowns and slower beats. These guys wanted to go back to a more 1989 "old school" sound. Justin started writing some songs but was busy with Indecision and Mark knew I was trying to start a band so he called me when needed help.  I loved the faster hardcore style so it was a perfect fit. When we started touring Anthony couldn't commit but thankfully we knew Dion from Muddlehead because he's a natural bassist and loves nothing more than playing.
We played full on till about 2001 when we decided to take a break but once we had offers to play again we were excited about it. We've played about 6 shows since 2006 including the Super Bowl and Tsunami Fest.

Vista: Are there any plans to ever get together & write new material and record?

Steve: We have always talked about it and even started writing some songs but we didn't want to do something half-ass since we couldn't tour anymore with our personal lives being so busy that we decided not to go into the studio.

Vista: How did it come about that Shutdown ended up on Victory Records? I had heard that Raybeez {Warzone vocalist} recommended you guys to the label? Talk a little bit about that time era as well. Also, I know when Raybeez passed away that the remaining members & Shutdown worked on a song in his memory? How was it to work with the guys in Warzone?

Steve: Raybeez was not only one of our biggest influences but a great mentor. He really got along well with Mark and took him under his wing. He definitely had a lot to do with Victory hearing about us. We had the honor of playing his tribute show at CBGBs in '07.

Vista: How old were you when you first started playing guitar? Did you take formal lessons and did you play any instruments while in school? Also, what was the first song you ever learned on guitar?

Steve: I was 14 and since I played music in school I decided to teach myself. Besides "Mary Had A Little Lamb" I probably learned "Stairway to Heaven" first HAHA!!!! (I can feel all the hardcore kids cringing as they read this)

Vista: As younger kids in the New York Hardcore scene it must have been overwhelming for you guys when first starting out? How old were you & the other guys when the band started playing out? As a band were Shutdown embraced in the scene right from the beginning?

Steve: I guess we never thought about it. We were so fortunate to have a scene in Brooklyn so there was always a place to play and other bands to play with. We were all between 15 and 17 when we started playing shows but the great thing about hardcore is you should be welcomed in no matter who you are as long as you bring your energy to the stage.

Vista: I know that Jimmy {Murphy's Law vocalist} produced an album & then years later Roger {Agnostic Front vocalist} produced another album! Both situations must have been pretty exciting? Talk a little bit about both experiences.

Steve: Talk about being fortunate. Those guys are legends and they should be. We couldn't believe that they made themselves available for us. Totally different approaches too. They both worked a lot with Mark since vocals are what most people focus on. Jimmy was all about energy and pronunciation. Roger talked a lot about energy too but in a different way. The sounds were really different on each album but we were at different places as musicians because by the time we did Few and Far Between we had like 3 years of touring under our belt. Both guys helped us take our skills to another level which is why they're such good producers.

Vista: Shutdown did a lot of touring for many years. From your memory how many tours did you guys do in America & how many in Europe? You guys also did tours of Japan. That must have been a opportunity for the band. And on top of that you also went to Australia! Again, from memory after all these years...Speak a little bit about the highlights of these tours?

Steve: We had such a good time and worked really hard. We must have drove cross country in the US over a dozen times. At least 2-3 times across Canada. We went to Europe 3 times, Japan twice, Australia and New Zealand once. It's insane to think about it now. We definitely were road warriors.

Vista: While touring in the U.S., what Sates were some of your favorites? Did Shutdown have an oddball area like Iowa or Idaho that were hot-spots for the band? There had to have been some strange out-of-the-way State that you thought would be horrible & a ton of kids show up?

Steve: We always did well in Southern California thanks to our friend Vic Galindo (XOne ChoiceX).  South Florida was good, Houston, Chicago. As far as oddball there were some out of the way places in Canada that always turned up tons of kids. We had a lot of fun there.

Vista: How was your experience with Victory Records? I know there are a lot of bands out there that think they are the Great-Satan! But, from your perspective...How was it to deal with them? Do you think they get bad-rap, so to speak?

Steve: Yeah they get a bad rep like anyone else who become successful. Truthfully, they gave us an opportunity to do what we love and no they don't give bands million-dollar signing bonuses. Most bands that have signed with them and done well did so because THEY WERE ACTUALLY GOOD BANDS THAT WORKED HARD!! Victory just did their job which is to promote those bands.

Vista: What was your first exposure to the hardcore/punk scene? What bands really grabbed your attention early on & got you initially interested? Also, what was the first hardcore show that you ever attended?

Steve: When I was 13 my older brother started bringing around records like SOIA, AF, Minor Threat, Killing Time, so I had some nice exposure to the good stuff early. Like I said before there was always a show in Bklyn or NYC to go to so my first few shows were local with local bands at a high school or the Crazy Country Club or L'Amours. Good times.

Vista: In the summer of 2011 Shutdown played at least one fest {that I am aware of}? How was that & who else played? Did you guys have a chance to practice before the show? I'd assume you guys would have had to? Vocalist Mark lives in Florida these days, right?

Steve: Right, Mark lives in Florida now but since Jimmy, Dion and I started The Last Stand we practice a lot so it wasn't hard to do a SD set. Mark practices at a local studio in FL. We played the Tsunami Fest with bands like Shelter, 108, Trial, Incendiary, and that was just on the day that we played!!

Vista: Looking back to the very beginning of Shutdown...Who were some of your influences band-wise? Where were you guys pulling influence from?

Steve: We all brought different influences in which I think you can hear in our sounds.  Everything from SOIA, YOT, GB, Minor Threat, AF, to Strife, Snapcase, CroMags, you name it.

Vista: Are there any regrets that you have while with Shutdown? Any goals that you were just out of reach from obtaining that drive you crazy looking back on? Did the band accomplish all it set out to do?

Steve: No regrets. We learned so much that it was all a learning experience that we can be grateful for. I think we would have liked to been able to keep playing and support ourselves instead of needing to put things on hold. As far as goals, we wanted to earn the tag of respectable and influential in the music scene. We would have liked to have been a SOIA or Hatebreed as far as how many heads we drew at a show, and even though I wouldn't consider it a failure that we didn't achieve that, at least we set our sights on it and tried our best. We worked really hard.

Vista: What is going on these days with your band "The Last Stand"? For those who don't know...Give us some details on this project? Also, didn't you guys record not too long ago? Was this a self released?

Steve: Things with TLS are going great. We brought in Mike from Inhuman on vocals who does a great job always. We just signed on with American Enemy records to do our first full length. We plan on starting recording this February and release it out into the world in June '12. This all came off our demo that you can check out at

Vista: In a live setting, what is your guitar set-up? Do you have a "set" guitar that you have always use? Also...What amps do you prefer to use? Back in the Shutdown studio recording days what were you using?

Steve: Since 1997 I've played ESP Vipers with EMG 81s. I love my Mesa/Boogie Triple Rectifier. That's pretty much it. Hardly any effects. I just try to get a thick in your face sound.

Vista: I know from talking to you on a semi regular basis that you are married & have a child. How are you able to balance that, with work & doing The Last Stand & occasionally Shutdown!? You must manage your time pretty damn good man! Ha. Also, do you practice guitar on a regular basis? If so...How often do you play guitar?

Steve: I have a great wife Stephanie, a 2-year old son Charlie, and another on the way.  When Jimmy, Dion and I decided to start playing again we said it had to be fun. That's all that mattered. When its fun, you fit it into your schedule anyway you want. Jimmy has 2 kids with a 3rd on the way and Dion is also married.