I had the opportunity to interview the 80's hardcore punk band Reagan Youth prior to their show on November 15th at Reggies Rock Club in Chicago. I was curious to hear about how the band's current line-up came together, their decision to start performing again after a long abscence, their new material they are currently working on, as well as their thoughts on music, politics, and life in general. Here is how our conversation unfolded...
(Reagan Youth- clockwise from bottom left: Paul Cripple, Greg Whisper, Tibbie X, Trey Oswald)
HappyHeadbanger: This is Joel Beverley for www.happyheadbanger.com (at) Reggies Rock Club in Chicago with Reagan Youth. Reunited since the 80's and doing a shout tour this year and they're headlining tonight.
Paul Cripple: Yes, yes, we don't really tour that often, we just go like a week away, you know like 10 days at the most. Every two or thee months y'know we play and sing our songs of protest. People like to prortest to our songs by getting fucked up and have a good time, and show society that we can do it ourselves and have a good time and I don't know what the fuck I'm sayin'...
Trey Oswald: And that Peace and Anarchy is a real thing!
Tibbie X: Do what you are.
Paul: Do what I am...
HH: How about you guys just introduce yourselves quick 'cause I assume...
Paul: I'm Paul, the guitar player. I was always in the band...
Greg "Stig" Whisper: I'm Greg. I'm the drummer. I'm relatively new. Two years on...
Trey: I'm Trey. I'm the loud-mouth.
Tibbie: Tibbie X, I'm the bassist.
HH: Ok, so I guess you guys disbanded back in the day...
HH: So what was the thing that got you to reunite, to get a line-up back together and start playing again?
Paul: You know what, the internet was a big part of it. People liked the band. I didn't think they liked it, but they liked it. And then I played a gig, and people started kinda talkin' shit, and I was like, "Fuck that shit man! I'll show 'em!" And then I got some of the old members and we played and it was fun to play music again. And then I started comin' up with some new songs. It's like I'd been empty for awhile.
HH: Alright, so...
Paul: And so that's what keeps me goin'. It keeps me goin', you know?
HH: And how about the rest of the line-up? How'd you guys come to be in the band?
Greg: For me, I ah, my drum teacher actually introduced me to them. He played for them for a little while. He wasn't a big fit. He used to play with Davey Jones. He's not playing with him anymore obviously, he's deceased, but he turned me onto them. I checked them out, and we got along famously, and ever since then it's been like a family. So...
Trey: What was the question?
HH: How did you come to be in the band?
Trey: Oh! Ah, I sought Paul out in 2006 when the band got back together, back in like... it was like summer 2006. I can't remember the month. And I heard the second record for the first time. I mean I was living in Austin, Texas. I sought him out. We hung out and became buddies. Listened to 70's muscle-car-rock, trade shows. Then I did a Reagan youth tribute band called New Aryans back in 2008-2009 just for the fuck of it on Halloween. Pardon the French. And, we just kind of like were together, and they needed a singer, and then I'm here, y'know? Sweet home Chicago, yeah!
Tibbie: Paul and I had a series of tremendously fucked up friends in common. So, they brought us together. And they're not around anymore, and we are.
HH: Alright, so um... when you were like getting into music when you were growing up when you were kids. Who was like some of your early influences that really turned you on to, like, 'Oh! I want to sing music. Or perform, or play music.' Stuff like that...
Trey: The Rolling Stones are the reason I started playing music. And like Guns N' Roses back in like the 80's, man. I'm still kinda young. I'm in my 30's. And you know the Ramones, the Misfits, and ah Reagan Youth. That kinda got me here.
Tibbie: I'd say Reagan Youth, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Adolescence, Agent Orange, Diamondogolas, Lydia Lunch... and ah anyone I could find in the underground 'cause I was stuck in the suburbs where it's really fuckin' boring, so...
Trey: And The Struggling Masses! Even though they didn't get us playing music, they got us here.
Greg: I'm a little different: Blink 182, old Green Day, No Cash, NOFX, Pennywise, Social Distortion, Bathroom Souls. Those are some of the big ones.
HH: Alright Cool.
Trey: Generations, man. It's all tomato/tomato, you know?
HH: Alright, so now...
Tibbie: Smelly Tomatoes.
Trey: Smelly Tomatoes! Smelly Tomatoes were an influence!
HH: Of course, when like the early days of Reagan Youth it was obviously a very political band. Obviously form the name, from the imagery you guys did. And it's like, it's maybe a better question for Paul if he's around, but anyway...
HH: Early days of Reagan Youth: very political. Very, you know, like reactionary towards the Reagan era...
HH: Everything like that...
Paul: And it's that same regime is still kinda pulling strings, so I could see why the music has lasted all these years. And that's the brilliance of original singer Dave Insurgent's vision and everything, that he made musically, artistically, and lyrically. So I can see why this band's music is still relevant. And I... as long as it's relevant, I'll have fun playing it.
Trey: The problems are still relevant today. You we have ah... the leaders that are in charge today were originally around when the Carter administration and the Nixon administration went out; the new Republican party came in. And those same people are in charge now! We'll just go ahead and say that.
Paul: Dick Cheney actually used to suck Reagan's cock every Thursday night! And they have that on the White House tapes!
Trey: Now it's Wednesday nights. They've switched it up...
Paul: Ahhh, I think Reagan's dead now. I think Nancy Reagan.... honestly she's a vampire. How could she live so long?
Trey: She just said "No!" "Just say no!"
Paul: How could Cheney have like 8 different hearts put in his chest? He must have real health care. He must have Obamacare!
Trey: Today's open enrollment for Obamacare, by the way.
Paul: I mean, We're just about, you know, exposing the evils of society through some catchy lyrics, and some cool-ass music...
Trey: And to talk about Obamacare!
HH: So you... any comments on current... I mean, you kinda already are, a little bit, commenting on the current political landscape, and whatnot. I mean it's...
Trey: We have socialist tendencies, which could be alright.
Tibbie: I think this is a very rebellious group of people that are going to be fighting for freedom in one way or another. So we might as well all be in this band together, travelling around the world.
Trey: What Tibbie said!
Paul: Eventually, I think eventually things are gonna catch up with America in the sense that it's... it's... It can't sustain itself. The system is wrong. It's not sustainable. And I think it's gonna just, this country isn't gonna be the greatest country in the world when your sending jobs overseas. When you're trying to always look at the bottom line is the dollar as opposed to, as what's best for society as a whole.
HH: OK, Now. So you guys obviously have the hardcore punk roots and everything. But I heard the rumor that you're going to be performing some of your House of God material tonight?
Paul: Um, yeah we could do 'Ten Thousand Years From Now'. We do that, but that's kinda a fast song, but it just has such a great arrangement. And I just wanted to do it 'cause I hadn't heard it in so long, live. We did it in Germany. But we could play it anytime we want.
HH: OK, so um, just comment on that, on that project. The last, unreleased demos.
Paul: Yeah, me and Dave...
HH: It's available , by the way, I'm going to just drop this. It's available at bandcamp: houseofgod.bandcamp.com.
Paul: Yeah. For free. Music is free. Just take it.
HH: Yeah I downloaded it myself before I came to the interview and everything. I like it. It's got some good grooves. I'm more of a 'metal' guy myself so I kind of dig that a bit more.
HH: But anyway, um, you want to talk any more about that um, project itself?
Paul: Well, um, no, um... I wish we, wish it had come to fruitition. Yeah but it didn't, and whatever the reasons why. It's a shame and basically it's drugs, and stay away from drugs.
HH: Alright, so... What was the decision to do that back then, to take that new direction? A little bit of change of pace?
Paul: Um, we were getting better musically. We were growing. Mentally we didn't want to be kids taking on the Republicans, we wanted to be grown-ups taking on a higher authority: God.
HH: Alright, Awesome. And then I also hear you're working on what's reported to be, going to be, the final Reagan Youth album. Talk a bit about that...
Paul: Yes, yeah. Um, I've go a bunch of songs. It's just going to be about, like we have a song 'Hapless Misfits'...
Trey: It's about a Crazy Diamond we all know...
Paul: It's just basically about the life and times that Dave lived. New York City in the 80's, Reaganomics, there's a song 'Idle hands' about how you don't want to work a job at 3, America's dream for society, to be a zombie in a factory, or stood up for the company. I don't know, lyrics like that, but it'll work. And at the end, Dave is dead but still fighting the power.
HH: Any references to like specific events from his tragic life?
Paul: No. No, no, because... Yeah there's this song 'Necrophilia', but I want to be like The Who, and have some humor in it, you know? I don't want to be that literal. You know, I want it to be a loose interpretation, but yet still capture the essence of the man, his message, and his 'fight the power' mentality.
HH: Let the fans read into it what they will...
Paul: Yeah! And if it's good and it's catchy and you can play those songs with the old songs, and they all fit together, and everyone's slam-dancing to it then I know it's good.
HH: Alright, awesome! Um, everybody want to chip in: of the songs in your set, what's your personal favorite when you play it live? The one you really dig the most.
Tibbie: 'Jesus was a Communist'. It's my favorite.
Greg: 'No Class'. The drum rolls are awesome in that song. I love it.
Trey: Right now, this tour, it's the hibernation tour. I like 'What Will the Neighbors Think?' That one, I'm killin' it right now. I love that song. It's so good!
Paul: I love when we cover, "The devils Grip, The Iron Fist". Our cover-song.
HH: Alright. As a band, you're up there, this is what you do. You're putting your heart out there for the fans. Get into the music. Is there like a take-home message? Something like you want them to walk away from the show thinking what?
Paul: Individuality. Think for yourself. Be an individual and embrace the differences in yourself and in others, because that's what makes the world beautiful. Don't shave ya head and walk around with a bunch of other people who shave their heads just to hate on a bunch of other people who haven't shaved their heads.
Trey: Breed skin-heads...
Paul: Or have different shades, you know.
Trey: ...Not the sharks.
HH: I'm gonna paraphrase King Missile here and say, 'Don't want to be comparable, even to yourself.'
Paul: Yeah, yeah...
Trey: Yeah yeah and remember: Love love, and hate hate and when in doubt, just BE.
Paul: And don't be redundant.
Greg: Don't take everything so literally either. Don't read into everything so much. Have fun!
Paul: Yeah, have fun. Have fun, and also look at a deeper meaning in life, you know.
Trey: And listen to Burning Streets!
Greg: Hell yeah!
HH: Alright, any other like, ah.. bands your into? You want to like kinda just say , "Oh! If you like us, check theses guys out?"
Paul: Hank and the Hammerheads, from New Your City. They're making a name for themselves. Trey?
Trey: Ahhh... Call Me Bronco, from Louisville, Kentucky. Bullrep, Louisville.
Tibbie: I'm a sexual catalyst in a band called Gash, from Philadelphia.
Greg: I'm in a band called Lawless Few from New Jersey. Sounds like Gas Light Anthem. A lot of fun band.
HH: I was going to ask about your side-projects. Other bands you've played in. Is that going to be like your ah, you going back to that once Reagan Youth plays out?
Tibbie: Gash is going on tour. We have three tours booked. Our first one is in Boston, and then we're going down south, and after that's California.
Greg: Awesome shows booked with bands like OC45, The Scandals. We're actually about to go record in the studio right now and make our first LP. We're super-stoked about it. We're going to work on that like all winter, so...
HH: And what was your band's name again?
Greg: It's called The Lawless Few.
HH: Ok, and is that like, comparable to the Reagan Youth material? Is it different...
Greg: No. Absolutely not. It's completely different.
HH: How is it?
Greg: It's more like Gas Light Anthem, Bath of Souls...
Trey: It's rock music. It's rock music.
Greg: It's got a soul. It's real cool. Check it out.
HH: Alright. And ah, as for Gash? You were saying?
Tibbie: Gash is an S&M Punk band from south Philly. So we're kinda like Iron Maiden, um Angel Witch, but with a punk rock edge.
HH: Alright, sounds awesome.
Trey: I'm just trying to stay alive until the next tour.
HH: Yeah, that's the best way to get to the next tour.
Trey: Yeah, long live it: stay alive through it, you know what I mean?
Paul: Alright so, um hang in there. We're going to go eat. Hope you enjoy the show. and be good.
HH: It was a good time you guys, thanks for talkin' with us.
Trey: What was the show?
Trey: What was the name of the show?
HH: Name of the show?
Trey: For the...
HH: Oh! My blog?
HH: It's Happyheadbanger.com
Trey: This is Reagan Youth, and a big fat peace, love, and anarchy to happyheadbanger.com. Thanks!
HH: I'll be out there bangin' my head tonight. You guys give us some rock, we'll let it roll...
Grey: Good time, man.
HH: Take Care... thanks.
(Reagan Youth, from left-to-right: Tibbie X, Greg Whisper, Trey Oswald, Paul Cripple)