Sunday, January 24, 2016

Interview with Jaxon Craig from Safe and Sound

I first “met” Jaxon online hanging out on some of the FB swap groups. While a lot of the kids there seem to be pretty douchey, Jaxon seemed like a guy who was always courteous and respectful, in addition to having good taste (I think he bought a Champion 7” off me). When I checked out his band Safe and Sound’s first release “The Tides” I thought it was pretty standard…not great but also not bad for a first release, something that as a young band they could hopefully build off.
Well build they most definitely have. A few months back they released a new song called “Self” which channeled a lot of cool 90’s elements; spoken vocals, crunchy guitars, neat little harmonics, and introspective lyrics. That was followed a couple weeks ago by a video for another new song “Dream”, which deals with animal rights issues. By that point I knew I had discovered a new favorite so I needed to reach out to Jaxon to learn more about the band.
Their upcoming 7” “Embers Still Remain” will be coming out next month in the US on Life to Live Records and in Europe on Assault Records. They’ll be touring the US in March as well. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for one of the best new bands going.

Tell me a little bit about your background; your family, growing up in the Pacific Northwest, and how you first discovered art and music.
I have lived in Washington my whole life and I love it here. I have traveled to quite a few places and nothing compares to it. The Oregon coast is my favorite place in the world, I just love the beaches we have here they are mostly gloomy and surrounded by forests and that's very serene and calming for me.
I live about 45 minutes south of Seattle and have for most of my life; my family is mostly from here also. I grew up listening to a lot of music, my dad is big into hair metal and my mom liked pop music so I listened to a lot growing up but didn't get any exposure to hardcore until I was around 12/13.
What were some of the first shows you went to and bands you checked out that made an impression on you and who you'd say have shaped your understanding of punk and hardcore?
The first hardcore related show I went to was an Underoath show with my cousin when I was 13. That got my foot in the door. I used to be really into just any music that was heavy so my friends and I would go see this band called I Declare War that was a local deathcore band. When I was 14 I went to see them at the local all ages venue at the time in Tacoma called The Viaduct.
They played alongside some local hardcore bands and that's what really got me interested into coming out to local shows more often. The person that actually introduced me to hardcore and punk is not worth mentioning but the bands he showed me that really clicked were Champion, Ceremony and Gorilla Biscuits. Around the same time I found Have Heart and The Carrier on MySpace and got very into them. I love doing research on bands and topics so a lot of what I know has come from reading things online/watching YouTube documentaries or live sets/or reading zines.

Talk about the origins of Safe and Sound. How did you guys all meet, and who sparked the idea to start doing a band together?
The original Safe and Sound doesn't really exist anymore; Rusty and I are the only original members we have gone through 2 major line-up changes. The original band met through shows and Tumblr (haha) but that wave only lasted half a year or so. In the second wave we talked about tour almost off the bat and ended up doing our first one in the summer of 2013 in Western Canada.
Yeah I was gonna say, there seems to have been a huge evolution/jump forward from the stuff on "The Tides" to the new material (at least the couple songs that are streaming as of now). Would you say this is more you and Rusty wanting to try new stuff, the new members bringing different influences to the table, or a little bit of both?
I would for sure say a little of both. When we started we wanted to be a youth crew/melodic hardcore band. We always kept our own little melodic touch on things but we have just been progressing towards what we want to see being played more. We all love bands that took risks to be different; one of our major influences that we all love is Burn. They took risks musically and lyrically that we all respect so much so we have been heading down the path of a more 90's sound with our own touch on it. The new stuff is heavier also for sure which I think most people can get down with also.
In terms of message, obviously the video for "Dream" addresses the plight of animals and encourages people to consider did you personally become inspired to go vegan? More broadly speaking, I know when I first started going to shows there was almost always a table with information on animal rights and a variety of other social/political/environmental causes, which is something that seems much more rare these days. How would you say we can get to a place where hardcore and punk can become more idea-oriented?
I have been vegetarian since I was 14. What originally made me want to make the change was PETA's "Meet Your Meat" video and also Food Inc., which was very interesting to me. Then I watched a documentary called "Earthlings" and that was what brought me to decide to stop consuming animals. What made me take it a step further was reading some vegan literature, one in particular called "Milk Comes From Grieving Mothers" that really opened my eyes to the dairy industry and how basically being a vegetarian is next to nothing in terms of actually liberating and helping animals.
The final push I needed was when I saw Morrissey live in concert for the first time. He played "Meat Is Murder" while clips of all sorts of animal exploration, abuse, and murder were being shown. The song ended with a black screen with a white phrase across it, "What's your excuse now?"
It was then and there I knew I needed to do everything I could to not take part in exploiting animals for my selfishness any longer. We have started distributing literature at our shows and we are actually all part of a vegan, straight edge, and radical politics zine press that is working to distribute literature at shows and to people seeking it.
I think we can get back to that point by educating ourselves. To become aware of what is really happening in the world, outside the walls of just our hardcore scene and to most importantly be pissed off about it. Voicing your opinion on things that you care about is one of the beauties of punk…to go against norms and to fight for things that you really believe in. Gather once said, "Punk is about doing what's right, even if it means going against the majority" and I strongly agree with that.

Aside from "Dream" what other things are going on lyrically with "Embers Still Remain"?
Lyrically the rest of "Embers Still Remain" is about turning over a new leaf. To build again when things have been destroyed. To come back twice as strong. I chose the title because even though something may have been extinguished; if even one ember remains it can spark again new life. Also the record closes with a bad ass straight edge song.
So the new record is coming out on both Life to Live in the U.S. as well as Assault in Europe. How'd you hook up with them and what else can you tell people about the release?
We did our last 7" with Life To Live and Dan is honestly one of the nicest and most legit humans ever so I was more than excited that was down to help out with another 7". Assault Contacted us after hearing "Self" when we put it online and Jan has also been really awesome about everything and I am just really glad we are having two labels that really care about our message and what we are doing and are supporting us by putting out our music.
A little more about the release, we will have a really cool recorded cover that I hope many people will dig, full streaming of the record will be coming very soon, physicals of the 7" should be available in the US by the end of February.
I know a tour is currently in the works that will bring you through a lot of the country. What places are you most stoked to play and who are you most excited to be playing with?
Very excited to be back in Texas, this time with Pulled Under who we are very excited to share some dates with, Florida will be awesome with Bind doing all of those dates and also I am very excited about playing in New Jersey with The Banner!

Bringing it back home a bit, the NW is obviously a region that has produced a lot of legendary bands. What current bands from the area would you say you consider to be your peers as well as bands from the area that inspire you guys?
A current band we did a lot with who just actually broke up was called Singled Out. We always pushed each other to do big things in and outside of NWHC. Carrying the torch currently are Red Scare and Moving On. Also continuing to carry the torch is TruexIdentity who are also doing big things with people who have done big things in NWHC before and are back for more.
Worst thing about hardcore in 2016? Best thing about hardcore in 2016?
Worst thing about hardcore in 2016 is it will be the year that we lose some great bands such as Bane and Foundation also that this will be the last Rainfest. Best thing in hardcore in 2016 so far is that Sound and Fury will be back!
Any final thoughts or parting words?
Parting words would be thanks to anyone that read this and has checked us out or will check us out because of it! Always remember your right to choose and your ability to impact this world.

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