Interview with Josh Sinder from THE INSURGENCE; New album Elimi-Nation out now on Innerstrength Records @theinsurgence
PUNK FUCKING ROCK! That’s what I’m talking about! Washington’s The Insurgence offer what every beaten down, worn out, angry-as-hell punker needs in their life: Blasting tempos, gruff vocals, and enough high-octane crunch to set any venue on fire. If the world was all roses, we’d have no need for such things, but it sort of makes me happy knowing that we’re an imperfect species on an imperfect planet, and constructive ways of release like The Insurgence are out there.
Boasting members from such legendary groups as The Accused and Tad, the band’s second full-length release, Elimi-nation, on NY label Innerstrength Records, offers 11 tracks of blaring, thrash infused punk-hardcore to get crowds whipped up into a frenzy. Reviewed HERE by Lord Covey, if you like your music fast and pissed off, look no further and cop the album. It’s a monster!
I caught up with drummer Josh Sinder to talk about the release, the group’s history, some of their finer live moments, and what they’ve got in the works for us this year.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! Introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
J- Thank you for having us on here! Jibo Barrow is our front man. He’s from Bisbee Arizona, and he comes from a punk family. Jibo’s first record release is an album he sang on called “This is Boston Not LA” at the age of 7 years old. He was the kid who sings on the end of The Freeze song “Time Bomb”, the little kid voice at the very end of the song goes “You dance the same and dress the same, Won’t be long till you are the same, You look the same you act the same, There’s nothing new and you’re to blame, this is Boston, Not L.A.”. Jibo’s dad lived in Cape Cod when he was with the band XS Noise and they shared a practice place with the Freeze, so that’s how they knew each other and Jibo ended up on that record.
Our bass player Justin McCawley is from AZ, too. He was in bands with Jibo when they were teenagers. These guys are old school buddies that make it easy for us to work with each other, and helps us all get along quite well.
Mike W. our lead guitar is from Spokane Washington. This is pretty much his first band and his shredding abilities speak for themselves on the records.
Johnny Reads is our other thrash maniac guitarist and vocal shredder from Orting WA, He previously played in bands from Seattle such as C.L.R.
And I am Josh Sinder, the skinsman, from Seattle, WA. I come from a thrash and grunge background, previously being in The Accused (Grinning Like An Undertaker, Straight Razor) and TAD (Salem, Inhaler, Infra Red Riding Hood).
G- How long has The Insurgence been around and when did you first get started? Do you remember the moment that you really felt the group “click?”
J- The Insurgence began in 2004 through newspaper ads and the band really “clicked” after a few line-up changes in 2006 when we wrote the songs that became our 1st EP “Never Surrender,” and the follow up self-titled full length where we went from a more sterile approach to a more organic darker, grittier roots standpoint. We took advantage of the strengths we could see within ourselves musically and built on that which ended in something much less contrived.
We actually recorded like 20 songs with producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, High On Fire, The Accused) and we decided to start by releasing 4 of those songs as an EP with basement records and do a West Coast tour to try to build up a following outside of Seattle. Then, we ended up starting a label with Donny Paycheck from ZEKE called Digital Warfare Records and put out 14 of the remaining songs for our self-titled full length. We toured a bunch on the west coast for that and started writing Elimi-nation.
G- Do you currently have, or are you working on, any releases right now? When will you be heading back to the studio or on the road? Anything currently in the works?
J- We just released “Elimi-nation”, our 2nd full length, with New York based label Innerstrength Records and did a tour from Washington through Southern California, Arizona and Mexico upon its release. Also, there is a song we did with Al Barr from Dropkick Murphys for a v/a compilation from a new label Strength Records, started by Roger Miret from Agnostic Front and Onno Cro-Mag, called “Respect Your Roots.” Al sang the verses and Jibo sang the choruses for the song “Broken Bones” from The Freeze, and it has bands like Agnostic Front and Rancid, Death By Stereo and Napalm Death doing cover songs by their favorite bands.
Our buddy’s from Portland, Hammered Grunts, are a face obliterating thrash punk band that we are “in the works” of putting out a 12” split with as well. Also, there is a split cassette with a band called Death Of President from Indonesia that came out on Indonesian label Tarung Records. We are trying to figure out how to get over there for a tour because I’m sure that the Indonesia punk scene is more rabid than anything we can imagine.
We’ll be doing more touring starting in the spring 2013 after one show in Seattle with DRI. We are always working on new songs, you know, but also we are planning the treatment for a new video for the song “Dear Leader”. We are gonna keep putting out videos for many of the songs off Elimi-nation over the next year while touring as much as we can and try to sell our stuff and probably write more songs.
The big thing for us is getting our music out there as far as possible. We worked really hard to get the sound we were going for on Elimi-nation and we achieved that goal, so now we wanna spend time playing shows watching Jibo jump in the pit every night and shake the hands of the people who support this. We really appreciate the people who have helped us in doing that.
G- Can you tell us a bit about your tunes? Where did you find the inspiration to write your new material?
J- The songs on Elimi-Nation are a combination of lyrics that bring awareness to certain topics in the world that we want to get out there more, and music that just makes people go off in the pit. (We’re) just trying to make music that makes you want to get moving at a show and have a kick ass time. That is pretty much the goal… To get people going in the pit and to have songs with lyrics that mean something important to the human race and stand for something real.
That’s part of what happened in 2006 when The Insurgence parted ways with the other guys who wanted to write more mainstream stuff. We wanted to get more raw and intense musically and lyrically, which we did and will continue to do. We get our inspiration from each other, and our mutual desire to melt faces and be the driving force behind a sick pit. And we hope to inspire younger bands to get out there and go for it. We really want to see the Seattle hard and heavy music scene grow!
G- Do you have a favorite song you have ever written? If you had to give 1 song to someone who’d never heard you before, what song would you give them and why?
J- I would say “Dear Leader” because I think that song encompasses all the different elements of the style of music we are going for, which are guitar riffs that are thrashy and hardcore punk driven, sometimes metal, and singing that is old school hardcore style like Black Flag or Negative FX or Bad Brains. It has a middle part with guitar harmonies that paints a picture of hope that can be found in the gloomy depths of starvation and oppression that’s musically inspired by Cliff Burton. The drums are a pair of steel toe boots kicking your head in (as pleasurable as that may seem). All that, and the song brings awareness to the situation in North Korea that I’m not sure many younger people even know about in the USA.
G- What is your writing process like, and who in the band typically comes up new music? Do you have a primary songwriter, or do you write music more organically through jamming during rehearsals?
J- Mike and I either combine his riffs with mine or bring in full songs. We will show them to Justin and Johnny at the practice space, and they will add their own unique touch to each song. Justin and Johnny both write as well. Justin will come up with some cool arrangement ideas, and so will Jibo. Johnny always has these rad screams he will fit in places and cool guitar stabs.
Jibo and Mike would write lyrics. Jibo will write these choruses and we will build off that and I will usually write lyrics for a couple songs as well, like “Dear Leader” and “Eternal Black” on this last record. We use different combinations of each other’s stuff to make it a band.
For “Eternal Black” lyrics, we used all these suicide notes or last words of people like Hunter S. Thompson, Karl Marx, Joan Crawford, George Sanders, George Eastman, James Whale…All the songs have a message of some sort, that one happens to be about suicide and the interesting thoughts of people before they take their lives.
G- Can you give us a few examples of any bands or artists in particular that influence your style? Who do you typically like to listen to, and are there any acts you think we should know about?
J- Typically, we are influenced by older bands like Black Flag, Iron Maiden, Venom, and newer bands like Zeke and Bullet Treatment. I really like the first 2 Maiden Albums. UFO is pretty sick with Shenker and other bands I’ve played with in the past like The Accused and TAD. Jibo is into Black Flag and Bad Brains a lot. Our bassist Justin is virtually a walking jukebox… He listens to so much music and is well versed in many genres. He likes The Dwarves and The Bee Gees quite a bit. We love the guitars from albums like Kill Em All and cool guitar leads like Schenker. We always try to mix that into something that will make a pit. That’s the idea these days for us.
We threw some slide guitar lead stuff on Elimi-nation that we got from Lead Belly, Peg Leg Sam, and Blind Willy Mctell. On the last record, we were throwing some Negative FX and Poison Idea type of influence, too.
You should know about a band called Forced Entry from Seattle… I heard they are getting back together. They are a thrash metal band from Mount Lake Terrace, WA. with Brad Hull on guitar. Look up a demo they released on 1987 called Thrashing Helpless Down. They were on Combat Records in the 80’s and 90’s.
There is a new band called 13 Scars from Tacoma that is ripping faces apart. Check out Death Of President from Indonesia. There is so much we listen to out there we could go on and on here. Slow Children from Riverside, California are sick, Hammered Grunts, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Toe Tag, Interfectrix…
G- Are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future?
J- Toxic Reign from Seattle is so shredding I kinda wanna play a bunch of shows with them so I can watch their guitarist peel my face off. Also, a band called Hammered Grunts from Portland are laying out a killer mixture of thrash and hardcore punk similar to The Insurgence. We have been headlining smaller shows lately just to see what our draw is looking like these days. We played a bunch of shows in California with this killer band from Riverside called Slow Children.
We would love to open for bands like Ghoul, Toxic Holocaust, Cancer Bats, Casualties, Mastodon, Exodus, GBH, Rancid! I don’t know…. We are talking with a booker right now about possibly doing some dates with Fang, Zeke and Embrace The Kill.
Other than that, maybe AC/DC or Venom need an opener hahaha! We wanna play as many shows with DRI as we can get on. DRI shows are a blast! I got to play drums for them last time they came through Seattle cause Rob Rampy was hospitalized. It was fun as hell and those guys are so down to earth and cool as hell.
G- What is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
J- The craziest show had to be Spokane, WA opening for Rancid where Jibo dove into the pit and disappeared. You could still hear him singing the song and after about what seemed like 5 minutes, he re-appeared floating on top of the crowd. It was fucking awesome! (attached is a pic of this).
Another might have been at El Corazon in Seattle with Bad Brains when my bass drum head broke and our stage guy Doug Cordova had to hold my 18″ floor tom on the ground for a kick drum (2 pics attached). Or possibly, it was at the lab in shoreline Washington when this guy Cody got his teeth and nose smashed and his white shirt got covered in blood and he just stayed right in front of the pit thrashing all bloody (attached a pic of this as well)
G- Lastly, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
J- The same advice we have to live by ourselves: Keep writing, keep playing shows, keep going if this is what you love. Don’t give up when things are not going as good as you want. The longer you stay with it, the better your chances are of having a career. It’s a long road for most of us. Keep improving yourself and your band, and never give up.