Interview with Hate and War by Roya Butler. [Photocred for photos below: Jauhien Sasnou / www.sasnou.com and Andrew Clark]
The Ghouls were one of the hardest hitting punk bands to come out of Philadelphia, PA. Releasing their EP, "It's Your Time to Die" on ADD Records, and a full length "Stand Alone" on SOS Records, their fan base grew. Touring constantly throughout the entire US as well as Canada and Mexico, and sharing the stage with Abrasive Wheels, The Exploited, Funeral Dress, Krum Bums, and ICB, they made a lot of friends in the industry and their reputation as a solid street punk band was confirmed. When the singer of The Ghouls, Robert Price, decided to part ways with the band, Johnny Apathy shifted to vocals and Hate and War was born.
I got to sit down with Hate and War to discuss their metamorphosis, their love of music, and their future plans.
What's the story regarding your metamorphosis into Hate and War? Hate and War: When the last original member of The Ghouls, Robert Price, decided to part ways with The Ghouls, Johnny Apathy, Zach Volta and Eric High, the three hostile city rockers, decided to do what they know best. Blayer Point-du-Jour was almost immediately added to the mix on guitar as Johnny shifted to lead vocals. Joe Reno used to play in a band with Eric High called The Wars End, and we knew we wanted him for lead guitar. It helped that about 2 years prior, Johnny Apathy, Zach Volta, and Joe Reno shared a bonding experience at The Philly Punk Venue, “The Halfway House,” involving fluffy, old-school Eagles Football gear and LSD...
What made you decide to name yourselves Hate and War (The Clash)? Hate and War: There was a while where we weren't sure if we would keep the name The Ghouls or not. When we decided it wouldn't be worth it, especially since we were ready to start writing music in a different way, we did kick around a bunch of bad ideas before landing on Hate and War. Backfire was one. Blownoff, The Lash (as in rum, sodomy and the lash) and we actually played as "Zach Volta and the Destroyers" once during the transition. One day at practice Zach said, "Why don't we just call it HATE AND WAR?" It was perfect.
What about Philly has affected you directly, which would be evident in the songs you are now writing? Hate and War: Living in the ghetto. Seeing already a few different waves of punk in the city as far as bands, venues, and crowds. Watching people come and go. Seeing kids having kids. Seeing kids dead by stray bullets. Struggling to get by and pay the bills. Cost of living bullshit. Young ass kids with no sense carrying guns. Young ass kids with bad attitudes getting hired as cops. Just creates more and more hostility on our streets. Also all the good times we have with all our friends. Awesome shows that are constant. Neighborhoods working together. Beautiful art you see in everyday life. Finding things to enjoy even in the shit times we live in. We wanna write songs that make people think about what's really going on and at the same time give things to look at positively.
In your song, "Hostile City," you sing, "I gotta wonder if I'm gonna lose my life." Can you tell us what inspired that verse? Hate and War: At the time we wrote that song, Philly had the number one murder rate in the country.
Tell us about your song, "No Regrets." Hate and War: We were still practicing at The Halfway House in Philadelphia, at 42nd and Chestnut. It was the night Bob quit The Ghouls. We (Zach, Johnny, and Eric) decided we weren't gonna stop playing no matter what. Went downstairs and that was the first thing we wrote. It's about mostly our time in The Ghouls and how even though it ended rather abruptly, we had no regrets about what we had done there and how we still have music to play. Keep the fire burning baby!
Although your songs have serious issues and tackle somber subjects, you're able to let loose on stage and get the audience pumped. Give us an example of a typical Hate and War show. Hate and War: We play a genuine rock-n-roll show--big or small. We go with whatever we got, like everything else in our lives. It's true we sing about some serious shit, but the point of the music is to enjoy it and have a good time. We like to stir it up as much as possible, banners, lights, smoke machines, and spliffs everywhere!
What inspires the funny antic/kid side of Hate and War, as a band--like rumors of you guys throwing water filled condoms off a rooftop in Philly? Hate and War: We are a band full of friends. Life is too short to put your best foot forward all the time. Sometimes you need to just let the good times roll.
Describe what it was like hand delivering your press kit to Rancid, and how they received it. Hate and War: It was a cardboard box with pictures we printed out pasted on the inside, a couple of shirts, our only demo at the time, and The Ghouls full length. We didn't know if they would remember us from playing with them in DC. They ended up giving Hate and War a shout before one of their songs during the show.
Can you tell us about your new 7-inch coming out on Creep Records this September? Hate and War: It will be our first release and were all very excited. None of us, in our previous bands or current other bands, ever released on vinyl. It will be 3 songs--and it's definitely only the beginning.
Anything to add? Hate and War: Zach is currently running a DIY venue at his house "The Fish Flat" in the Fishtown region of Philly. Come ride the zip line into the pit! Any touring bands out there doing it themselves who need a show in Philly, hit us up [on email via myspace]! Keep the scene alive.