How did your experiences compare in the New Jersey hardcore scene, Frank?
Frank: “Well, you would hear about this stuff because New York was very close, but at the same time I grew up in a neighbourhood in New Jersey, so it wasn’t like there was much to be oppressed by. Like Laura said, you would listen to bands like The Clash and Sham 69 and try to figure out how that applied to your world, but it wasn’t on that level. For me punk wasn’t so much about activism as much as telling stories.”
When it came to booking your first tours, did it feel like you had a network to draw upon?
Laura: “Book Your Own Fuckin’ Life [the book of punk contacts published annually by Maximum Rocknroll] was literally the network. I had started doing a zine and become pen pals with people through that, and then I met people across the country. We booked our first tour through those contacts and maybe out of a month-long tour only 10 shows out of 30 happened, but it was the time of your life!”
Frank: ”Same thing for me. In the first band I toured with, Pencey Prep, we booked this tour around this one big support slot we had in Minnesota and we were like, ‘Holy shit, we get to play [legendary Minneapolis venue] First Avenue? We have to go!’”
Laura: “First Av? That’s rad!”
Frank: “Oh my God, it was huge. So we somehow got a van and it would break down every day, but we’re going. We played maybe 10 shows and just before that one big show the van just gave up four hours outside of Minnesota. So we didn’t get to play that one big show we had booked the whole tour around, but that was what those tours were like. It was one big road trip and we got to play our music in towns we never thought we would even get to see. We saw ‘the world’ and that was a big thing for us. I probably learned more in that one month than I ever did in the 12 years that I went to school.”
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Had your paths crossed much before this current tour together?
Frank: “It’s funny, because My Chemical Romance and Against Me! were both on Warners and had the same A&R, but we had never properly hung out together. It was usually just passing each other at festivals and such.”
Laura: “There were those shows in Canada [on the 2011 Honda Civic Tour] where there was us, blink-182 and Rancid, but years before that, we both played together to maybe 15 people at a venue where you basically had to walk through a meth lab to get paid.”
Frank: “Oh yeah, in Nashville, Tennessee! I remember that. I remember watching you guys and thinking, ‘Holy shit, this band is way too good – this is scarier than the meth!”