Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Interview With Jamie Coville from Shock Nagasaki

Editors Notes: Due to unforeseen circumstances, the site that hosts this blog is not allowing me to upload photos. So, I will do my best to add plenty of link so you can hear Jamie's music via YouTube. Jamie is a pure talent, and NEEDS to be heard. I hope you folks will look him up and discover his musical talents. Thank you.

Critical Mass: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass, Jamie. I've been a fan for over 14 years, so this is pretty exciting. You've played in the bands Libertine and Shock Nagasaki over the years. What are you up to currently?
Jamie Coville: Thank you! Well, I JUST got back from Spain; I spent some time over there working on some music & catching up with a few close friends BUT the best part was checking out some of the new music coming out of there right now. Really cool sort of Spanish lo-fi death rock scene going on which I'm digging right now. Also, Metadona Records out of Mallorca is putting out a ton of great KBD style punk rock. It was actually quite a surprise because I wouldn't have thought that on a little island in the Mediterranean Sea that there would be so many people that are really keyed in to some great underground music. Definitely had a few great nights just taking turns spinning records in the bar & the place would be rocking on all kinds of crazy shit. Some of the old Spanish stuff is KILLER too. But other than that man, a new Shock record will be happening sometime over the next couple of months. I think we're gonna do it in Berlin & I think there's gonna be a lot of people playing on it. The process should be a bit looser this time around; the sessions I've been around for at the Radio Dead Ones studio in Berlin have been controlled chaos with like, 20 people at all times & enough German beer to fill a swimming pool, so that sounds to me like a recipe for a good record.
CM: When I hear your songs I automatically hear your style of playing. Some people just have a sound that you instantly recognize as being their own. Who were some of your personal influences growing up?
JC: Anything that has heart can be influential. That's the main thing; I can get into anything that's real. You can't fake that. But for me, I started out with the obvious stuff, & then started digging deeper & your mind really gets blown when you realize just how many bands happened between '77 & '82- I mean before & after that as well, but there's a point in the 80's to my ears at least, where records started to sound different. They just didn't have that gritty, lo-fi, shitty sound that's so good. So late 70's/early 80's is sort of that sweet spot where almost anything sounds good to me. In EVERY town, in EVERY country, someone, somewhere started a band, & maybe only did 1 single & were gone forever. But there's a few of us out there that go to great lengths to find that stuff, haha. In fact, when I travel, I always make it a point to get area specific. For example, when I started getting into 80's Japanese punk/hardcore, it was like fuck this shit- I'm going to the source; forget about looking all over NYC for an Aburadako or Stalin record. And then you come back from Nagoya & Osaka with a suitcase full of the stuff, haha. Kind of like if you live in Syracuse, you might be able find an album by one of the greatest bands of all time: The Penetrators- (& then send it to me, hahah!).
CM: How old were you when you first discovered music and picked up the guitar for the first time?
JC: I started playing around 12ish. I kind of just got into music on my own. You'd have to go on straight intuition because there were no computers then, so there was a lot of winging it & hopefully not getting a raspberry. I bought the first New York Dolls album strictly based on the fact that Johnny Thunders was the coolest mother fucker I ever saw; had no idea who they were or what it sounded like; I just KNEW. I was always pretty dialed in; most of what I liked back then, I still like in some capacity. But I think the first couple of punk records I was exposed to were some Dead Kennedy's stuff &, haha, I remember clearly my parents thinking the DK record was the most fucked up thing ever because of the lyrics, & maybe the name of the band itself, haha. Actually, I just remembered this, but in elementary school, I had this art teacher who told us one day that her nephew's favorite band was called "Black Flag" & she proceeded to show us a bunch of Pettibons art & it was so colorful & just left an impression. I just met him recently & I should have told him that story, haha. I mean for a little kid to see "Slip It In" & just "whaaaat" ?! But the British stuff for me was mind blowing & still is. These days, I'm so far down the wormhole & I'm still invested in that era, but I've been paying attention to new stuff too, which I never did before. I had this thing, that if it came after '83, I wouldn't even bother, haha. But there is some good stuff out there if you look in the right places.
CM: Let's go back in time. As I mentioned earlier, you were in the band Libertine back in the late 90's and put out some solid releases like the "Rise Above" EP, "Guttersnipe Glamour" 7" and "See You In The Next Life" album. How did you guys get together? And what was it like playing in a band with Belvy K? (who people may remember as being in 7 Seconds for a short time and an original member of D Generation)?
JC: Well, let's see…I was up in Syracuse at the time. Young & pretty green around the edges as far as never having been out on any tours or even having to be somewhat responsible within the confines of a "professional" band. I used to hang out at this joint called Styleen's Rhythm Palace; they used to have some really good punk/alternative type nights in the early days. I knew this crazy chick who kept showing up with this dude who looked like he could have been in D-Generation, ya know with the hair & shit. Turns out he WAS in D-Gen, haha, but anyway, I think we must've drank a bunch of times before one of us idiots finally put 2 & 2 together & realized that we both played & needed a band. Why he was in Syracuse in the first place- I think he was taking a little rehabilitative leave of absence from New York City & getting himself healthy. There's not quite as many distractions in Syracuse. I think while upstate, he'd started planning something out with Bobcat (those guys used to play together in The Catatonics, an early hardcore band that did an EP in '84 called "Hunted Down" right before Belvy bailed to join 7 Seconds). Then somehow or another I came down to sit in with 'em & they kept me around. Then we just started rehearsing & recording all the time & trying to jump on any show we could. We toured with U.S. Bombs when "War Birth" came out which, I think that must have been the apex of Duane's insanity. I've seen some legendary U.S. Bombs shows & legendary Duane Peters antics as well. We played with The Misfits, Peter & the Test Tube Babies, Warped Tours. We did so many stupid fucking shows too, but regardless of what it was, they'd book us on anything. Belvy was an absolutely amazing drummer; that's what he did in D Gen & 7 Seconds. He did an old U.K. Subs record too. But he was singing in Libertine.
CM: People may not realize that there has been song bites from the tracks "If Wishes Were Horses" and "See You In The Next Life" used over the years on MTV shows like Cribs. Did you guys give them permission to use your songs? And have people come up to you in the past and said "Hey, I heard your song on MTV"?
JC: Yeah, I would actually get that all the time- "Hey, I heard this song or that song on MTV" or whatever. I was probably the last one to find out that they were using that record in the editing room on so many shows. A couple of years after we split, I just started receiving royalty checks in the mail. After a while I didn't even bother to see what it was being used on. I don't watch that shit anyway, & the list got pretty long with all of these ridiculous shows- "Pimp Your Mom" or "Date My Ride" or whatever the fuck they do. I still get 'em so apparently that record is still kicking around over there. Is MTV even on anymore? I remember a song or 2 being used for a movie around that time as well. Fucking God awful movie with Steve Zahn, but Belvy was in it for about a 1/2 a minute maybe, haha. When the Shock record came out, TKO got a song on some other show too. It's a bunch of crap & I have no idea who watches that stuff, but when the mailman comes by & all of a sudden you've got drinking money, it's hard to complain, haha.
CM: In 2000 you guys did a split CD with American Heartbreak called "You Can't Kill Rock N Roll". Again, solid material from both bands. But you guys split up not long after that release. Was the split on good terms? And do you still have contact with your former band mates?
JC: It wasn't on good terms, haha. I think we'd done a U.S. Tour that year & then went to Europe for a month. And then we were supposed to come back & hop on the Warped tour & the pressure cooker just finally exploded & it was like me & Belvy yelling in each others face. That was it really. Someone contacted me later about the remaining tours that we'd committed to, but at that point I had no interest in going thru the motions. It's like what I was saying about the "heart & soul"; it was a meaningless, irrelevant band & it needed to be taken out back & put out of it's misery. That whole thing was just a vehicle to play & go on tours & have fun, but I had no heart invested in Libertine. I usually don't even acknowledge that band when I'm talking about music with people. Shock Nagasaki was my deal & I'm still proud of that.
CM: As you've mentioned, after Libertine's split you were in Shock Nagasaki. You guys put out the album Year Of The Spy some years back. Was this the only release the band put out? Or is there more material out there?
JC: "Year Of The Spy" is the only record we did. TKO put that out in the States & we had another label out of Holland do a Euro release which included a press of 300 white vinyls. There's some 7"s & we were on a, shit ton of comps, but all stuff was pulled from that record, except for 1 old version of Palisades that turned up on a comp.
CM: Is Shock Nagasaki still around?
JC: It's around in the sense that I've never stopped writing songs & that there was never a decision made to end it. I've always just kind of looked at it like some weird art project. Anything aside from the piece of wax on the turntable is incidental. I don't care about how it's done, or who get's involved, or even if anyone knows what the band looks like or anyones names even, haha. To me, that stuff, in a lot of cases detracts from the music anyway. Ya know, take Rudimentary Peni; I love the fact that you could Google Nick Blinko, & there are no pictures to be found, haha. Maybe there's 1 or 2 bigfoot style photos, but it really lends itself to the music, because you don't have those distractions, & your imagination can just run wild with it. That & the fact that I personally don't have any interest or patience for that whole world of self promotion. A Shock record will end up right where it belongs, because the right people know about it, & the wrong ones probably don't & I'm perfectly content with that scenario. It's not really about getting bigger; it's more to exist to be discovered now or 20 years from now just like 98% of the shit I would be spinning on any given day. If you want to talk about Libertine, that went against everything I'm saying here, so it wasn't a hard decision to bail. Some people can't resist taking a bite of out the forbidden fruit. That's fools gold. Give me a bottle of wine & a guitar and as far as I'm concerned, I'm wealthy, haha. I'd rather make an album that retained a bit of credibility & garnered a bit of respect over time than to jump on the fast track to nowhere. The money will go away. The record will exist long after you cease to exist. And besides, there are some people- I'm one of them- that couldn't do it that way if they tried. I love music too much to cheat.
CM:  With the music you've put out over the years, what do you feel is your greatest musical achievement?
JC: It doesn't exist yet
CM: What can we expect from Jamie Coville in the near future? And new releases or tours on the horizon?
JC: Well, the Shock Nagasaki record; It's funny because I really started writing in Kreuzberg after that tour in 2006. Instead of getting on my flight back to the States, I shacked up in Berlin & the plan was to not slow down, & to stay there & write & demo out a bunch of songs for a new record. Some of the guys came back & hopped on other tours filling in, etc. & we never did get to the 2nd record. But a lot of that stuff from back then will be on this record. The good ones are just as great as when I was working them out years ago, so it's like, just getting to this point where your going, it's got to be born sooner or later. It'd be a shame to just never get around to recording it. And actually, I was out in Berlin earlier this year with the whole crew & my buddies band "The Uprising" was doing an EP, so we're all in the studio drinking beers & doing backup vocals, & I said to myself- grab a bunch of the guys & we'll hole up in there for a while & knock out a couple of these Shock tunes for a single, just totally on the dl, & press 'em up. But we just didn't have the time then & also, I'd like to see a whole record happen, not just a single. It's gonna be good man; I feel like, it's been so long since the first record came out, but all of that time in between- it really gives you the space to just let the songs happen when they're ready to happen. Even now, after 7 years, I'm still thinking to myself- I'm so glad we didn't record this a few years ago, because something just came to me this morning & it kills, & we wouldn't have had that line or that riff back then. I'm cool with doing a record every 10 years if it's great, not just good. And the first one, I would've done some things differently listening back. So I feel like this new one has got to be spot on. The songs are fucking ace though
CM: Jamie, it's been an honor to be able to talk with you. Your music has given me so much joy over the years and I thank you for the gift of music you've give the world. Thanks again for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass. I greatly appreciate it.
JC: Cheers & thanx !

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