Long Island, NY’s Backtrack (Reaper Records) has been blazing up the hardcore ranks in recent months. With their near constant touring schedule, youthful energy, and riot-inducing performances, Backtrack’s name is spreading like wildfire across the hardcore community.
And why not? Already given the nod by some of the elite in the game right now (Terror, anyone?), the quintet seems to have more problems sitting still than a young child on Christmas morning. These guys are ALWAYS on tour, and that is exactly the attitude you need to have to build a name for yourself, especially in the underground hardcore music scene.
I caught up with guitarist Ricky (with a guest appearance from guitarist Chris) during their stop in Reading, Pennsylvania with H2O, Terror, and just about every other hardcore band out there right now to see how the tour has been going, when we can expect a new release, and how many hours these guys will be back in LI before leaving again (my guess is 6.)
G- Hi there Ricky, and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! How’s everything going down there today?
R- Good good. Everything’s is great.
G- Nice. Did you guys already perform or are you on later tonight?
R- No we played probably 2 hours ago. It’s a long show, but it was really good. It was awesome! I was really surprised.
G- That’s a Reverb today, right?
R- Yeah it’s a Reverb. It’s a great venue and all the bands are sick, so I’m stoked to have played here tonight.
G- Dig it. So, for some of our readers who may not know who Backtrack is, if you could just go ahead and introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
R- Well, we’re all from Long Island pretty much. I’m from Hicksville. Our drummer John is from Levittown, our singer James is from East, and our other guitar player Chris is from Lindenhurst. Right now, we don’t have a permanent bass player, but our fill in, Scott, who also plays in Naysayer, he’s from Richmond, Virginia.
G- Right on. Cool! Now, How long has Backtrack been around and when did you first get started?
R- We got started in the beginning of 2008. Me and John, the drummer, started working on a demo, so it’s been close to 5 years now that we’ve been a band.
G- Dig it. Now, Backtrack’s name is circling around pretty good right now. You’re always, always on the road so it would seem, and you’re not afraid of long jaunts. You’ve done Europe, the states a bunch of times, and you’re just on the road all the time… How do you guys maintain such a rigorous schedule? And honestly, for the 45 minutes you’re on stage every night, how do you occupy your time when you’re traveling between gigs, man?
R- I wish I could tell you. We’re all probably insane in our own right, so I think you have to be a little crazy to go on tour for long periods of time. On this tour, I’ve been working on some of the new record, so I’ve been trying to use my time productively, as opposed to just fuckin’ getting drunk or playing video games, which I also do. But I’ve tried to be a little more productive on this tour to help the band.
Everybody else does their own thing. Some people like gambling, so they play card or stuff like that. Some people like smoking weed, so they smoke some weed every once in a while. People like playing sports in the van, so we do that, too.
I guess you really have to be able to enjoy yourself while you’re on tour and have a good time, or else you’re just gonna go crazy, and no tin the good kind of way. You’re just gonna hate it and not have a good time at all. But we all love it enough to be able to do it all the time.
G- Dig that, man, and hopefully more to come! I hope we can get you back up to Syracuse at some point in the near future.
R- That’d be great!
G- Now, you talked about some new stuff… Are you going to be dropping another record on Reaper? What can we expect and when can we expect it, man?
R- Yeah we’re working on another LP. I really don’t know when it’s gonna drop, but we’re working on it really hard. We get home in 2 days, and we’re going to be practicing a lot and working on the stuff.
Nick Jett from Terror is going to produce it again… He produced our last record, and Reaper is going to put it out. I want to try recording this summer, but I don’t know if that is going to happen, so we’ll see. But definitely expect some new material from us.
G- Good. Very good, and again, touring band you are, what are you going to be doing after this? Are you heading back out on the road?
R- After this, all we really have are a few one-off shows. We’re playing a festival on Long Island called Today’s Mixtape Fest, and that’s in April.
R- We’re playing a fest in Toledo, Ohio called The Jamboree. We’re playing, I don’t know if it’s announced yet, but whatever, the Turnstile record release for their new record, which is awesome. That’s with a bunch of sweet bands and should be announced soon. And then, after all that, we’re going to Europe and UK. Mainland Europe is with Comeback Kid, and the UK is with Trapped Under Ice.
G- Well, those are gonna be some sick shows! You’re doing the TUI hiatus shows?
R- Yeah this’ll be their last time there for a bit, so I’m excited. I love that band and I love touring with them, too, so it’s going to be a really good time!
G- Those are going to be riots! That’ll be a lot of fun!
Now, given that you’ve been to Europe and you’ve been all over the place at this point, I wanted to talk about how you’ve been received and how your reception in the states compares with your performances abroad, both in terms of how you play, the audience reaction, and the hospitality. Is there a place you enjoy more or that you think is better than the other?
R- I mean, I love playing everywhere. I think this tour that we’re on with H2O, Terror, and Code Orange kids has been our best US tour we’ve ever done.
R- Style wise and everything else. All the bands are sick, we get along with everybody really well, and all the shows are really good. So, we’ve been having a really good time on this one.
Overseas, I love playing the UK. And we went to Australia in early 2012, and that was amazing, too! The responses… I couldn’t believe it, because we’d never… We’ve been to the UK and Europe a couple of times before, but we’d never went to Australia, and the response was overwhelming. I was very surprised about how well it went over. I can’t wait to get back to those places.
And I love touring Europe and everywhere else, also.
G- Right on! Sounds like a good time, man… I’m kinda jealous, but you’re putting your time in.
So, for some of the people who may not have heard Backtrack’s music before, obviously it’s a hardcore band and it’s heavy music and a lot of fun, if you ask somebody like me, but do you have a favorite song you have ever written?
Or, if you were to give 1 Backtrack song to somebody who’d never heard of your band before, what song would you give them and why?
R- That’s a hard questions. Umm, I think my favorite song to play live is “Too Close.” It’s a really catchy song and I like everything about the song. I like the music and I love the lyrics in the songs, too, and I think that song is a song a lot of people can relate to, too. So, I think if I was gonna show somebody one of our songs, it would be that one.
G- Right on. Good deal.
Now, the current tour you’re on with H2O and Terror is nuts, and you’re going to be doing dates with Comeback Kid and Trapped Under Ice all upcoming in the future, and they are all great shows! But are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future? If you had a feasible 3-band dream lineup that you could be on with Backtrack, who would you want to be on tour with?
R- That’s hard! Is this bands that we’ve toured with or bands we haven’t toured with?
G- You can do whatever you want, man. This is ‘Ricky from Backtrack’s Dream Lineup,’ so go nuts.
R- Wow, that’s hard. I’m gonna make it so it’s just hardcore bands, and then I’m going to make it bands we’ve toured with, and than i’ll give you bands we haven’t toured with.
G- That’s cool.
R- We’ve toured with Terror, Take Offence, and Xibalba. Those bands are all awesome and I love touring with them, and they’re some of my best friends, too.
And then bands that we haven’t toured with, I want to tour with Title Fight, because we’ve been friends with them forever and we’ve never done a tour together, and I love them and I love their music, so I want to do a tour with them.
(Guitarist Chris comes into the picture)
Chris is here now, too! Chris just entered the van. (To Chris) Chris, name a band that we haven’t toured with that you want to go on tour with.
R- He’s thinking.
G- No worries.
R- It’s gonna take him a little bit. I’m gonna give you another one… King 9, because they’re our best friends from Long Island and they’re going to put out a brand new LP soon. I would love to go on tour with them. Chris, are you ready for one? Give me one.
C- Down to Nothing.
G- Alright cool. King 9, Title Fight, and Down to Nothing for the feasible that you haven’t, and Xibalba, Terror, and Take Offense for the ones that you have. Those are pretty damn good lineups, dude… Right on!
R- Yeah definitely!
G- Now, you mentioned the response down in Australia, you mentioned the UK, and the shows I’ve seen on this current tour have all been nuts, but what is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
R- Take it away, Chris.
C- Alright I’ll give you one. Craziest show, I think… Our record release on Long Island was awesome!
G- Was that at Revolution?
C- No that was at Garden City Ethical Center, and that was for the record release of Darker Half. I think it was in late 2011.
Atlanta on this tour was crazy! That was one of my favorite shows of this tour, for sure. And the Brew Hall in Sheffield in the UK when we were just there, too. And always Southern California is one of my favorite places to play. The shows there are always crazy!
G- Right on. Good deal!
So lastly to finish up today, you guys are building very steadily in the hardcore scene and in the music scene in general. I see your shirts everywhere and kids wearing your merchandise and listening to your tunes, so what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands out here who want to do what you’re doing, who want to make it in music, go on the road, and be pros like yourselves?
R- I wouldn’t say we’re pros, but…
G- (Laughing) I’ve seen you play a few times, man… You’re pros.
R- Nah. Umm, I would say don’t take it too seriously. Just have a good time and make sure you do that before anything else. If you’re not having a good time, then you’re gonna be miserable. So make sure you’re having a good time.
If you’re gonna tour, send people your cd’s, give people flyers, etc. Words of mouth is always best. Get your news and music out to other people, and I think that’s one of the best things you can do as a band.
And then tour as much as you can to get the word out about your band. And if people like it, they like it. If not, you’re still happy at the end of the day.
G- Dig that. Well look, you’ve got yourself a mighty go rest of the show to check out today, and you’re almost done with this tour, so again… Thank you very much for speaking with Live High Five today and can’t wait to see you guys back up here. Tour safe, play hard, and we’ll catch up in the near, ok?
R- Thanks, man. I appreciate it!
G- Anytime, man. Have fun!