We Are The Union - 04.05.10
|The following is a mini interview of generic questions that we posed to all bands that wanted to answer:|
We Are The Union
1. How did you get your band name?
Matt came to practice with a United Auto Workers (UAW) shirt that read "We Are The Union" on the front of it. It was some sort of union chant thing and the guys thought it was fitting.
2. How did this band get started?
The band started as a ska-core band in the second half of 2005 out of the ashes of a couple Ann Arbor-based ska-punk bands. All the members were still in high scool and after a few lineup changes 2006 saw the first semi-official release/demo, "The Grow Up or Shut Up EP". Reed Wolcott (vocals/guitar), Matt Belanger (trombone/vocals), Brandon Benson (bass), and Trey Cook (drums) would keep the same lineup through early 2007 and record and release "Who We Are". Trey and then former rhythm guitairst Noah Fenton would leave the band to form Take Notice (I Surrender Records), and myself and my metal shred buddy Ricky Weber were asked to join. Then we starting touring pretty much full time, released "Who We Are" for free on the internet which caught Vinnie Fiorello's eye and now are about to release our first album entitled "Great Leaps Forward" for his new label Paper + Plastick. That's about where we are now.
3. What bands are you influenced by?
Less Than Jake is the most obvious one, and we all have loved A Wihelm Scream before we even all knew each other. Other than that there's just so much variety of stuff that we all like and listen to. Not so much ska aside from bands like Rx Bandits and The Snips, but we all love bands like Lifetime, Strung Out, Set Your Goals, This Is A Standoff, Kid Dynamite, No Trigger, Van Halen, Smoke or Fire, ALL, AC/DC, Journey, Metallica, Propagandhi, System of a Down, Rufio, The Offspring, Rehasher, even shit like Etta James, Torche, or Cheap Girls, and obviously Time Life's Buzz Box Set.
4. If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would it be and why?
We'd love to tour with bands like Less Than Jake and Set Your Goals because those are really two of the bands that I think our sound definitely falls between. Also would love tour with Rehasher, Rufio, Propangandhi, Paint It Black, super fast bands, but we'd also love to and do tour with bands that sound nothing like us: The Snips, Cheap Girls, Shook Ones, Make Do & Mend, Bomb! The Music Industry, The A-Gang, Hellmouth, The Riot Before, La Dispute. It's not weird for us if it's not weird for them. As far as past bands, Slapstick, No Trigger, Kid Dynamite, Near Miss, Bigwig or Over It "Timing Is-era". We'd also like to do another tour with our friends Fireworks, simply cause our first tour with them got cut short and we've grown up playing hall shows with them since before we could even grow facial hair. Also Tymm is a great drummer and there's nothing better than being able to watch an amazing drummer play every night, haha, so I'd have to pick them and prolly Strung Out, The Flatliners, This Is A Standoff....maybe Yellowcard if they got back with LP?
5. If you were a furry, what animal would you be? Why that animal?
Definitely a Gremlin. Enough said.
6. Why should people listen to your band?
I think we're definitely something daring in this day and age of music. Everything is so fashion oriented, even down to MySpace pages and merch designs. I think a lot of people are not really willing to take risks anymore, especially now when music is easier to get pirated than to actually find it in a store. We're kind of a mix of new and old while keeping it fresh. A double-time melodic hardcore ska punk band? In 2010? Really? Like something you're older brother used to listen to combined with something right now. I think it's something new while being comfortably familiar and considering ska-related genres are almost forgotten about these days, I found WATU to be a breath of fresh air, even before I was asked to join.
7. If you were chosen to be in Guitar Hero/Rock Band, what song would you want in the game? How hard do you think it would be to five-star on expert?
Oh man. Haha. I would love to play my own song in Rock Band/Guitar Hero, cause I love those games along with both our guitarists. I think it would be good to have a more horn driven song in it, but that seems highly unlikely since there isn't a horn controller....yet. I'd have to say "Strange, Slow and Old" which is a track off our new record. The song does have a prominent horn line but the guitars and bass shred so hard in the background you don't even really realize it unless you're listening for it. The vocals are melodic and aggressive and the drums are frantic, doing all sorts of fills and transitions in and out of breakdowns. I would love to see our song transcribed out and be too difficult for myself to even play. *laughs*
8. If you won a Grammy, who would you thank?
Matt's family for lettings us practice in their basement haha There are months when we can't even afford our own practice space and they'll always bail us out by letting us make their floors rattle a few times before every tour. Also our girlfriends and friends/families back home, and all the friends in other cities that let us sleep on their floors.
9. If you could change something about the music industry, what would it be?
I think I hinted at it earlier. I can't speak for everyone but I feel that this whole new "crunk" rock genre is just outrageous. There just doesn't seem to be much originality in it, less and less bands actually writing music because they love it, and more and more bands writing music because they think it will sell. I think about bands like Lagwagon who have continued to write great records for 15 years not being able to afford to tour anymore and bands with "Prada" and "Sickest" in the name getting signed to sub labels of Motown. It just bums you out knowing that bands that inspired me to even pick up drumsticks have to find new careers and "boy bands" so to speak have taken over Warped Tours and basically what mainstream punk rock is in general. If I was a kid and this is what I was being raised on I'd be pissed! At least we still have Strike Anywhere! That being said there are plenty of mainstream bands like Four Year Strong and Paramore that are terrific and make even the most popular genre of music unique and inventive.
10. Memorable tour experience?
Harvest of Hope, which we just returned from was an amazing and memorable (or unmemorable if you know what I mean) experience as it was just thousands of people, bands and volunteers just hanging out and camping together, all for a good cause. Check out http://www.harvestofhope.net/ for more info on the HOH organization. The Fest 8 was great, like HOH, just being able to watch so many great bands like Samiam, Anvil, Torche, 7 Seconds, Dillinger Four, Joey Cape, Drag The River, The Menzingers, Lemuria, those were definitely highlights. Also we went over to the UK for the first time on a self funded tour with a band called Anti Vigilante. They are super rad dudes and a super rad band. Just being able to play music in another country, and at times having the kids care even more than they do in the States was a feeling I can't even begin to describe. Also we just played a hometown show with Big D And The Kids Table in Boston which was probably over 650 people, the most I think we have ever played to. Having kids sing along and jump around for an audience that huge was definitely an incredible feeling.
11. What does AP.net mean to you?
AP.net is the source. Everything is on here, witty headline titles included, the moment someone finds out. Even gossip, movie reviews, world headlines. Haha. I also think its a great way to really tell if the kids like your band or not. I love Punknews for the sarcastic comments but the users of AP.net genuinely enjoy when bands get on and post and talk to users and it's awesome knowing somebody actually cares and is greatful. I also love how often AP is updated cause its constantly something new to read on those long van rides.
12. What is your favorite song to play?
I have a lot of fun playing "Five Out Five Kids Who Kill Love Slayer". It's a song that really just about how fighting is stupid at shows, so its always cool for Reed to kinda be able to get kids to listen in real quick for a message that actually makes sense right before we play it. Then it just starts fast, gets faster, and doesn't let up until the bridge where hopefully the crowd is already piling on top of each other.
13. What is your vacation spot of choice?
Home. Haha. We've been touring just about every 5 of 8 weeks the past 2 years so it's nice to be home and unwind. Try and find a quick job you can quit before the next tour so you can afford to eat on the next one. Haha. And obviously if we have lady friends, they are usually back home. Other than that Long Island and now Orlando and our friends in Go Rydell are pretty much our second homes.
14. What music reminds you of your childhood?
Honestly, watching Goldfinger play from the stage a few summers ago really got to me, as their first 2 albums were huge for me in middle school. Less Than Jake and Goldfinger did a summer tour and Vinnie hooked us up. Oddly enough video game soundtracks, especially Street Fighter II, Ricky and I will still just jam out metal versions of Ken's stage music, and it's awesome if you're a nerd like us. Other than that the cassette collection of Collective Soul, Tears for Fears, Metallica, Limp Bizkit, Weezer, Green Day, and of course the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Coming Out Their Shells Live Album.
15. If you could have any super power, what would it be? Why?
Ricky has just sat down and joined me for the rest of the interview. I say Teleportation like Nightcrawler. Like if I shut my eyes and wanna be in Japan, and open my eyes and wake up there, that would rule. Like c'mon, we could just teleport to the next city. He's just talking about being able to control fire.
16. Do you feel that your band has "made it"?
Yes, no and it's too early to tell. We'll find out I guess from this release of "Great Leaps Forward", the first actual label release. We've been able to DIY a tour to the UK, tour the east coast USA countless times and tour/play with bands like The Riot Before, Bomb The Music Industry, Mustard Plug, Set Your Goals, The Swellers, The Wonder Years, The Flatliners, Big D & the Kids Table, Shook Ones, Make Do & Mend, A Wilhelm Scream, Streetlight Manifesto, Broadway Calls, Bomb! The Music Industry, The Fad, The Snips, Barnaby Jones, Fireworks, Go Rydell, The Flaming Tsunamis, A Loss For Words, Voodoo Glow Skulls, even The Aquabats. I feel like that alone is a huge accomplishment. Being able to record with Matt Allison and having Vinnie believe in our band and put out our record is a huge accomplishment. We are now technically "labelmates" with some of our favorite bands: A Wilhelm Scream, Shook Ones, Cheap Girls, The Snips. However financially wise, we are all thousands of dollars in the hole and have never actually "made money" playing in the band, so technically you could say we haven't "made it". Being able to do something we love and having people actually care and be supportive is enough for us, for now at least.
17. What is something that most fans don't know about you?
Reed and Matt were in an old band called The Skafia. They played a show with Brandon's old band Fonix, who used to play shows with Jim and Ricky's old band A Fatal Denial. Brandon joined Reed and Matt and formed We Are The Union and Jim started Stranger On A Train with Kyle from Fireworks. Stranger On A Train broke up and Jim joined WATU, shortly thereafter recruiting Ricky. Other than that, we were all in various high school music programs. Jim was in drumline, Brandon in marching band, Matt in band, Ricky in choir, and Reed in jazz band. Band camp.
18. What's your favorite holiday?
Halloween cause Reed works at a haunted house every year and it's fucking awesome. Ask him about haunted houses sometime. We couldn't play The Fest 7 cause Reed had to work the whole month of October but luckily we were able to play The Fest 8, which is also great cause its a punk rock costume party, like Hot Water Music at Fest 3. LOOK IT UP.
19. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Reed and Brandon are vegan, so they spend a lot of time cooking and coming up with insane and delicious vegan dishes. Matt's a pretty big comic book guy, constantly reading digital issues. Jim's a huge video gamer (he has a Neo Geo arcade machine in his bedroom) and Ricky's a bartender back home at his families sushi restaurant, Cherry Blossom, which is amazing I might add. Other than that Reed and Matt spend a lot of spare time writing and arranging riffs and ideas for future songs, while the rest of us spend a lot of "peaceful jam sessions", constantly...jamming. Reed works at small indie movie theater in Ann Arbor, so we are pretty big movie buffs too and Netflix Instant Watch was on the ENTIRE time we were at Atlas Studios. Also Guitar Hero Metallica, Street Fighter 4, Bust-A-Move, and NHL 10.
20. What kind of hidden talents do you have?
Collectively we could make you an amazing dinner. Ricky and Jim man the steaks, while Matt does something veggie, and Brandon and Reed amaze you with vegan treats. Let's just say we could make you feel in paradise. Other than that I think we are better at playing our instruments than anything else. Haha.
11:40 AM on 04/09/10
This is falling with style.
Question number 9. It's so fucking sad that that is the case. Lag Wagon is the biggest example. All stopped touring for the same reason. Some of the most prolific bands in punk's history can't draw anymore because they don't have their bangs swooped over their forehead. It's rigoddamndiculous.
06:20 PM on 04/14/10
Really good read and a fuckin' amazing band! Can't wait to see the dudes with BTMI! in Boston soon...Such a great live show.
But uh, somebody should tell them that the furry little monster thing is a Mogwai. The Gremlins are the evil reptilian fuckers. Haha.
06:21 PM on 04/14/10
I like WATU, but I would hardly call them "Dairing".
08:02 PM on 04/14/10
liked the disc, loved the interview. wilhelm is definitely how you start an influence answer.
and bonus points for shouting out "timing is everything"
keep being solid dudes.