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F-Minus

February 5th, 2004 · post by Chris Lever · Make a comment

Part One – as interviewed by Edd at the London Garage.

RN: Does it surprise you to be able to come all this way and be able to play these kind of venues?
E: It’s weird – I’ll wait to see how many people show up though! But, no, it is weird, the last couple of times we’ve played London it’s been amazing. We did a headlining show at the Underworld, and then we did the Subhumans, and Leftover Crack, that Invasion tour thing, which went really, really well. It’s nice to be here with another band, or people that you know. Because it’s sort of like if you have a bad night, they get to have a bad night with you, you know? (laughs) It’s sort of like … it’s just cooler that way. But we’ve been total bums on this tour though. We’ve been bumming gear on the whole tour. We showed up here with no gear, because the week before we came here all of our stuff got stolen out of our van, which really sucked. But, yeah it’s awesome to play this far from home and have people show up to these shows.

RN: So how did you choose the support bands for the tour?
E: Well I think that this is our fifth time over here now, so from being over here so many times, we’ve found a bunch of different bands. Five Knuckle have always just been really great to us, letting us use their stuff, and they’re such great musicians. So, we choose them that way and then Dale, our friend and driver, his band John Holmes are playing. And then the Mingers, they actually let us stay at their house last year so we found them that way, and then I don’t know. You just find different bands in different ways. We’ve found loads of great, different bands over here. In Spain there are these two bands the Capases and Scavenge, and they’re so good, and so much better than most of the other stuff that is out there. It’s just such a bum-out because you know that they’re just not going to get the chances that they’d be given in other countries.

RN: There’s the general perception that it’s more difficult for a girl to be on tour than a guy, do you find that true?
E: I don’t really know. I guess to answer the question I’d have to be a boy for a little while to see what it’s like in their shows! (laughs) But no, I love being on tour. I think that I love what everybody else loves about it. I get to play music every night as my job. I mean it’s demanding, it’s a twenty-four hour job but at the same time at the end of the day you’re working for yourself and answering to yourself, and you’re getting to play your own music. I don’t think that there’s anything more rewarding than that. But I think that it definitely is taxing.

RN: So is F-Minus then big enough to support you, or do you still have to go home and do odd jobs or whatever?
E: If we stayed on tour all of the time then I wouldn’t have to have a job, but we all have other things that we do, and it’s hard, because we’re not a very commercially viable band. And we play a style of music that not a lot of people want to hear. And we love doing it, but there’s only so much that we can actually do. We want to tour more in the upcoming year, but at the moment we have to do stuff at home still. So when I’m at home I work for a clothing company called the EC (?) star, and that’s cool!

RN: Well considering that the band is not necessarily ‘commercial’ were you surprised by the attention that the band got from ‘Wake up Screaming’? Largely cause it seemed that Steve Albini had recorded it?
E: You know what… In the beginning I think that we got a lot of ‘oh your record came out, and you had a “big” producer on it’ kind of attention, but I don’t really think that it… I suppose it might have got us some new people listening to us, and a couple of people have even admitted to us that the only reason that they picked it up was because they saw that Steve Albini recorded it. We more did that though for ourselves. We just wanted to do something cool for our third record, and he was really great to work with, and if people are paying attention to it because he did, then that’s cool you know!

RN: So it doesn’t bother you that people are maybe buying it because of him?

E: No, I mean that’s a question that people seem to keep repeating and repeating. Like whatever.
RN: I guess he’s a really big producer so…
E: Yeah, it’s weird though cause I’ll have people coming up to me asking, ‘Who the fuck’s Steve Albini (pronouncing it wrong)’ or can’t pronounce his name, or whatever, and they’ll ask, why is his name bigger than the band name on the front of the CD, and whatever. Lots of people don’t actually know who he is. But that’s not why we did it, like I said. It wasn’t because he was famous and we wanted more attention.

RN: Yeah it was slightly strange the sticker on the CD.
E: Bright yellow and big! We joke about it, it’s kind of a joke to us, how it was perceived and marketed. But I understand that we’re not a unit shifting band, and we don’t sell tons of records. So whatever Epitaph feels that they need to do to market it, then that’s fine with us.
RN: Do you get any say over that side of things?
E: They do a pretty good job of it on their own. But I think that if we felt really strongly about something one way or another I feel that they would listen. And I mean we’re not very demanding of them marketing wise, for obvious reasons. But no, the people that work there are very cool guys, and they’re also very accommodating.
RN: So you don’t have the anti-epitaph thing that a lot of bands seem to on that label?
E: No. I think that, I think that with everything, every band, every person, and every label has a good rap and a bad rap and you can make just one mistake and pay for it forever, or whatever. I think that Epitaph has this thing about being a ’sell out’ label, I know especially a couple of years ago. I think that they go through waves, but I think that they’re a very powerful, very, very cool label, and still independent and supporting a lot of bands. And the fact that they’re supporting little guys like us, who aren’t making them millions, and the fact that they still put out our records, and that Tim Armstrong is still allowed to support us. I think that’s really cool.

RN: Did you have any reservations then when you got approached by Hell-cat?
E: F-Minus was the first thing ever on Hell-cat so it wasn’t really like there were any reservations. Tim was doing this new thing and he was just to Brad, ‘I want to put out a 7″ of your band’, and it was just like awesome, cool, whatever!

RN: Are there any questions that you wanna be asked?
E: Well – I keep telling people this – but we just put out a single for ‘Wake Up Screaming’ on another label, a hardcore label, called Bridge Nine from Boston. And we were basically trying to do an in-between thing, so that there’s not too much of a hiatus between releases so we put that single out with two or three new songs on there and that’s pretty exciting.
RN: It’s got cool artwork too.
E: Thanks.

RN: Final question then, is there any difference between the States and the UK in terms of how you tour, or are received? E: Definitely like I said. Kids out here are very different. The way… it’s really weird, like the style of music that they listen to. We laughed a lot the last time we came over here and Ska was still really big, whereas ska really couldn’t be deader over in the States. I think that the really awesome thing is that audience’s are generally more enthusiastic and sometimes appear to be more passionate about music, and sometimes appear to be much more genuine, which is really neat. Oh and there’s a lot more drunk people, and a lot more drugs! RN: I guess we’ve got three years on the American kids. E: Yeah definetly.

Part Two – as interviewed by Chris “Lipgloss” Lever in Newcastle.

RN: I’m not sure if Edd told you this but the interview’s for an all-girl issue…
Erika: That’s what it was! He told me it was for an all-girl thing, and then the questions he asked me…I was like, ‘Oh, he didn’t really ask me anything about being a girl in a band. Maybe that was his approach, or whatever, like ‘I don’t care,’ you know?

RN: The themes usually fall apart, seeing as the last issue was supposedly based on a ‘Major Label’ theme, and by the time it came out, you just couldn’t ever see that theme being there in the first place. So, how has the UK tour been going?
E: It’s been going really, really well. Every time we come over we learn a little bit more about which cities are the great ones to play, like Sheffield is always amazing, and the reaction of the kids. People here really do their homework. They come to the show and they really know a lot about your band, and your records, as opposed to…some of the kids in the states just aren’t like that.

RN: How does the UK fare I comparison to crowds in Europe as a whole, does it vary a lot?
E: It does vary a lot, you can tell certain areas like different kinds of music a little bit more, but it seems like a lot of people in the UK, and in Europe…there’s like a big Hardcore 80s following, which is really cool. People know a lot about music…all the kids we stay with have great record collections.

RN: Have you all recovered from your colds yet?
E: Sniiiiff…I still have it! Last night was the worst of the whole tour, I just could not stop coughing all night, but I’m getting better.

RN: Ok, hoping that Edd’s got most of the interview under wraps I’ve just got a few ‘girl-related’ questions…Do you think most bands with girls in them seem to make more of a point of that there are girls in the band, when to be brutally honest, it really shouldn’t be an issue, and in some cases the girls themselves are the one’s guilty of making a thing out of it, if that made any sense?
E: I have a very conflicted answer to this question because I feel it shouldn’t be like ‘I’m a good guitar player…for a girl’ and I think a lot of people say that kind of thing, like ‘she’s a girl singer, or a girl guitar player, or a girl drummer, or this’ and it shouldn’t even need to be pointed out.

RN: Yeah.
E: But that’s how I feel, and at the same time I also realise that it’s not completely even yet and we do still have to try a bit harder sometimes, but I think these days there are so many girls in bands that it’s just becoming way less of an issue, and there’s so many extremely talented girls and evenly talented girls, and I always used to feel like the scales were so tipped in the other direction just because there were more of them. Obviously there were more better ‘boy’ bands because there are more boy bands, and I think now that there are more girls coming out and doing it in bands, not that there haven’t always been, but more in the mainstream, that…

RN: There’s a need to almost to…
E: Point it out!

RN: Yeah, and to make more of an effort to stick up for themselves than is really necessary.
E: I’ve always say in interviews, and I never want to seem like an anti-feminist, coz obviously I’m a feminist, but I’ve never had a problem ever! We tour with boys all the time, I have all-boys in my band, I don’t see the difference, it’s not a big deal to me. I don’t ever try to point it out, coz…why should I? They don’t walk around all day saying that they’re boys, why should make a big deal out of the fact that I’m a girl? I’ve never felt like I was any different from anybody else, and everyone else has been so considerate. No-one else has ever made a big deal about it and I don’t think that they should, you know?

RN: Yeah. I spoke to Fabulous Disaster last year, and they said they were very much against the idea of being labelled as a ‘girl-band’ and they mentioned that they were asked to play the Warped Tour on a stage called ‘The Ladies Lounge.’
E: I’m not into that, no…

RN: They weren’t into it either, but then I have to admit that even Fat Wreck Chords seems to be making to much of a deal out of the girls in their roster with Erin’s Pink and Black label.
E: I never know how to confront it because yes, I think the issue is still there and there still needs to be a little more awareness on the fact that obviously, girls can play just as well as boys can, but, at the same time I don’t think that it should be separated. I don’t think there should be a girl stage and a boy stage, and I think that’s ridiculous. I think everyone should play on the same stage and I think that’s the way it’s going to be the most just in the end.

RN: Let’s just pause and consider the state of the Warped Tour these days…
E: The Warped Tour is a very bizarre thing.

RN: Would you ever play it?
E: The thing about the warped Tour is everybody’s got tonnes of friends bands who’ve been on it, and they always say it’s so much fun and it’s like a punk rock summer camp and everyone just hangs out all summer and has a great time, and it has broken a lot of bands, in a good way. It’s broken them into the mainstream, and it’s gives people a much broader fan base, and I think that’s cool. I do still have that stubborn part of me that thinks certain music should be sacred and people shouldn’t be exploiting it through the mainstream, and through people who don’t know any better…but that’s kind of an elitist attitude. Also, being in a band, the idea of travelling around all summer in the heat and not being able to leave sounds terrible…

RN: I’ve been told it’s a dustbowl.
E: I’ve heard of people passing out, coz if you think about it…you’re in the tour bus, you park there at eight in the morning and you’re basically imprisoned! You can’t leave, you can’t do anything and you’re stuck…

RN: It’s not as if you’re hopping from city to city, where you can take yourself off, you just bus it from parking lot to parking lot…
E: No, you’re in some weird lot in the middle of nowhere, so I dunno, I think it would be kinda weird, but you never know?

RN: it just hit me this year, watching the line-up become more commercial than ever, and hearing about the US Army trying to recruit at shows!
E: Really? God, I didn’t know about that!

RN: And they banned alcohol completely at some of the shows…
E: Wow! I think everyone can see, it’s pretty obvious it started as one thing, and it’s turned into something completely different.

RN: Do you think there’s always going to be a male minority in the crowds who, are so narrow minded all they can think of is shouting out derogatory remarks?
E: Yes, but there are girls who yell at guys too, you know? And there are a lot more girls who say rude sexual comments about guys and it’s just not like that and the same, for obvious reasons. But it does suck to be up there and to have people yelling stuff at you, but to be honest it’s only happened to me a handful of times, and you have to have a sense of humility about it, laugh at it and just go ‘that guy’s an asshole ‘ or ‘that guy’s stupid’ or whatever?

RN: Are you still trying to hold down a job and tour?
E: Yes.

RN: Are you still working in the shoe store or…
E: No, actually I work in the wholesale fashion industry. I work for a clothing company; we design clothing. It’s actually a really, really fun job, and the reason I’ve held onto it as long as I have is because it’s creative, and everything I wear, I’ve always gotten to be part of designing, and that’s really fun and part of me doesn’t want to not work because it’s really cool and interesting to me, but hopefully I won’t have to work…one day.

RN: And you’re still finding it ok, holding your job down between the touring?
E: Well, I haven’t been fired yet!

RN: You could always just start your own business and then you could do sleep/work whenever you wanted?
E: I’m working on it, I’m working on it!

RN: That was another thing…the Rancid/NOFX tour in LA’s coming up soon isn’t it?
E: No, we already did the Rancid/NOFX one, that was like a year ago, we doing Rancid/Tiger Army in two weeks.

RN: Ok, I got confused, coz I found an interview you must have done for the Lock-Up on your last UK tour, and thought you were talking about this tour.
E; Oh, no, no, no, no, we’re doing a tour next month with Rancid and Tiger Army, and that should be great, they’re pretty big right now in the US.

RN: They hadn’t played a club show in the UK for well over four or five years until they just came over and sold out Brixton Academy.
E: People over here just love Rancid!

RN: Yeah, bands with their roots in the earlier punk scene always go down well in the UK, that’s it really, I feel really unprepared now, with the last question.
E: No, No, thank you so much.

RN: We’ll pull it together and make a decent interview, I promise.

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