Thursday, September 17, 2015

Interview with Warren Evans from No Restraint

I heard about No Restraint maybe a year or two ago when Grant at Bitter Melody Records released their debut e.p. "The Branches of Suffering" on cassette. I think he used the words "vegan" and "90's" to describe it so I instantly checked it out and loved it. If you know the correlation between those two words you probably have a pretty good idea of what this sounds like and you'll probably dig it too. If not, just trust me when I say it's awesome.

Anyway, the Florida lads have a new split 7" with North Carolina's Down In It dropping some time around the end of the year via Bitter Melody, which promises to be one of the best releases of the year. 

I hit up Warren who does vocals in No Restraint to learn more about his background and the band; here's what he had to say.

Alright Warren, part of why I love doing the blog is because I get to learn about people doing awesome shit who I don't know very well; so that said, talk a little bit about your background and how you got caught up in this little world we call hardcore punk.

Well, first off, thanks for reaching out and I really appreciate the support. As for how I found hardcore/punk, it was sort of a group of things. My older brother was really into metal, and I used to always go into his room and borrow his Slayer and Sodom tapes. So that's really what got me into more aggressive music. 

I had a friend when I was 12-13 named Stevie who had an older sister who would drive up to Memphis for shows. We bugged her until she took us with her, and we met these guys in a band called Piston Honda who was actually really good. They did several Quicksand covers and stuff like that. Through those guys, I heard a ton of music and met a lot of people. From there, I was hooked. I wanted to check out any band that came to the area, and download whatever I could on Napster and Soulseek.

Quicksand covers? Righteous! From there, what were some of the first hardcore shows you went to, and what bands made a particularly strong impression on you, be it lyrically, visually, musically, etc.?

Well, the show that I consider my first real hardcore show was Codeseven and Haste with a local band from Memphis called My Surrender who sounded similar to Glassjaw. They were such a good band. Codeseven was insane, and I remember being so pumped to see a band go so crazy. They opened with "Lights," and “Division of Labor” is still one of my favorite records. Haste was great too, and I think they are severely overlooked. I saw them a lot when I was younger and they always killed it. It took a few years for me to really appreciate the message behind hardcore, because at the time I was just so young. The energy and emotion drew me in the most.

But with that said, I think that is important. I would see these bands go insane and that's what made me look deeper into what they actually had to say.

I definitely agree with that point. It seems like for every band that has something of substance to say, there are ten that have pretty much nothing to say and are just there to sell merch or get a sick picture taken. From your perspective, how can we encourage kids to see the deeper messages that are out there?

You know, getting people to care is a thought I struggle with a lot. I feel like things are just so different now, everything is so easily accessible, but somehow people care less. Shows used to be so important to me. You met people who felt like you, thought like you, and it was like you left there with something. I don't think it's exactly fair to blame technology for that, but I do think it disconnects people from the real meaning. 

Hardcore to me was never about proving you went to a show or the merch you bought, it was about the memory, the experience, the moment in time where you got what you needed to help you through that day or week or month. I'm not saying people don't still experience it that way, but it feels super different to me. I think the only way to make or encourage people to care, is to try and relate the issues in ways they understand. Explain the commonplace we all have with the messed up shit that happens on our planet.

So at what point did you begin to make the transition from spectator to actually playing in bands and becoming more active with things?

I wasn't really in bands until I was in high school. My dad bought me a drum set when I was pretty young, Jr. High I think, which is one of the only cool things he ever did, so I used to come home from school and put on headphones and try my best to learn how to play the stuff I liked. I must have listened to “Songs To Fan The Flames of Discontent” 1000 times, just trying to learn the songs, but it took me a while to get the confidence. I think I started my first "real" band when I was 17 or 18. We were called xPull The Pinx and it wasn't good, but it was a start, haha.

Alright, so No Restraint. Talk to us about how the band got together, initial influences, goals, and where things stand now.

I moved to Florida just under three years ago to be closer to my girlfriend. I knew some people here already, so it was a nice situation. Less than a year after moving, some friends were talking to me about doing a vegan band. They said they had been writing some stuff in the vein of Indecision and Unbroken and showed me some rough recordings. 

I loved the songs and said I would love to come to a practice and check it out. We clicked really well and that was that. As for goals, I don't know if we have any aside from just trying to spread positive ideas. I've been able to touch on a lot of things in this band that I haven't gotten to in other projects, and that is a great feeling.

Up next is of course the split with Down In It, entitled "Humanity Has Failed". Talk a little bit about how the project came did the bands pair up and at what point did Grant from Bitter Melody step up to handle the vinyl release? Also, I imagine lyrically it's going to be a heavy hitter based on the title, so talk to us about what's going on lyrically, with your side anyway.

The split with Down In It started off as just a passing mention of doing something together. Our drummer was talking to Shane about doing something early on, but we didn't think it would come together so smoothly. Grant released our demo EP, and has been nothing but great and supportive of us since the beginning. He told us he wanted to be involved as soon as we talked about it. 

Also, I have to say that Down In It is a great band full of great guys, and they have some of my favorite lyrical themes of any band out right now. Shane, Fletcher, and I decided on "Humanity Has Failed" after talking about where we both went lyrically, and the main theme was very similar. In a nut shell, many of the choices we make every day are not only killing the earth, but they are killing us.

Your e.p. "The Branches of Suffering" obviously deals primarily with the topics of veganism and animal rights. Talk about how those ideas came to influence you, and for new kids who haven't been exposed to those ideas or old heads who have maybe brushed them aside, why would you say veganism is so important?

I grew up in Mississippi, and my family is very southern. We grew vegetables, we had chickens, we had goats, and plenty of other animals. I even loved fishing as a kid. I ate meat for the first 16 years of my life. These things are very normal for most people, especially people who grew up where I did. The difference is that I made the connection. Way before I stopped eating meat, I felt weird about eating anything off a bone. I also distinctly remember a dog in the neighborhood killing one of our roosters, and instead of us burying him, we ate him. I remember feeling so weird about that once they told me. I couldn't understand why we didn't bury him. 

As I got older, I would see literature at shows about vegetarianism and veganism, and these things spoke to me instantly. I gave up meat and it felt great. After a few years of vegetarianism, I decided it made no sense to support one and not the other, so I became vegan. 

I believe veganism is important, because it absolutely has an impact on everything. People get comfortable in not caring, and animal rights is one social justice issue that gets swept under the rug far too often. Meat and dairy are killing us; the industries are killing the earth. We throw away incredible amounts of vegetables and grains, just to fatten up animals for death. This is not a sustainable system. These things are easy to ignore, but they are impossible to disprove.

In terms of the new material for the split, how was the writing process this time around? What was the vibe like in the rehearsal space and how would you say the new material compares to "The Branches...."?

The new stuff is a little heavier; the songs are a little longer. Since it was only 2-3 songs, we were able to fine tune these a little more which was cool. The guys had a handful of songs written when I joined the band, so I think writing together has definitely made us more comfortable in our sound. I'm excited for the split because I love the Down In It songs, and I'm eager to see what people think of it as a whole.

The South in general (and Florida in particular) seems to be churning out lots of awesome bands lately....who are some possibly under the radar bands from your area that people should check out and how would you assess what's going on around you locally?

Florida definitely has a lot going on right now. Even in Jacksonville there are so many bands. I'm actually afraid to name names because it would be so easy to forget someone. It seems like that has always been the case in Florida though. So many of my favorite bands from when I was younger are from here, and when some of my old bands would do shows here, there was never a shortage of locals popping up. I'm not really sure why that is.

Aside from "Humanity Has Failed", what's next for No Restraint? Will people outside of Florida be seeing you? LP in the works perhaps?

We are just going to keep writing. I'm sure an LP will happen, but I'm not sure that will be next. All of us have full time jobs, so extensive tour plans are just not in the cards for us. We definitely want to do small runs and weekend stuff though, so we are always interested in that.

No comments:

Post a Comment