For those have not heard of Trial By Fire they are signed to Jade Tree Records and hail from Washington D.C. I met with the band in Brighton at the Free Butt. Proudhon were the support band and I promised Mike the drummer I would go to see their next show and it just so happened they were playing with a band I had wanted to see for quite a while.
Trial By Fire are Jason Yawn vocals/guitar, Kevin Lamiell bass, Colin Barth guitar/vocals and Mike Sneeringer drums they are all between the ages of 23-24. The interview was with Jason.
Who in your opinion has shaped the direction of Washington punk in the past decade?
Battery, do you know them? (Yea) I would say theyve had a huge effect (I mention Discord Records) as well as Discord although they seem to have moved away from hardcore
Who is your favourite DC band generally?
Aside from Battery
without a doubt Strike Anywhere, I used to play in a band with the drummer, were quite close and they are very good friends of ours (the next day Trial By Fire were going to be the support for Strike Anywhere in London for the Camden show). We really like F-Minus and Darkest Hour too.
How is the tour going so far?
Its going great, we played in Budapest (Hungry) and we didnt think many kids would show up but it was amazing there were about 80/90 people there, thats been the highlight of the tour so far
We started the tour two weeks ago and its a three-week tour.
Are there any bands you have been in previous to this? Or are in also?
Kevin (bass) is in a band called Minority Rule (I cant read my scribble but I believe Colin is in Minority Rule as well)
What sort of bands have you been listening to at the moment?
A lot of hip-hop actually (I mention Im pretty much into everything) like? Mos Def, Tulib Ali I saw Black Eyed Peas at Reading last year were they good? It was cool to see a hip-hop group like that cause that sort of exposure is not as common as I expect you have over in the states?
But also bands like Against All Authority and Black Flag
I didnt really need this question answered as I could see for myself Jason had a faded black straightedge zip-up jumper with the XXX emblem on.
Are any members of the band straightedge?
Three out of the four of us are straightedge, Kevin doesnt really refer to himself as straightedge but hes drug free.
What is the straightedge scene like in America at the moment?
Its a personal life choice but its something that has really started to fade
I mention that I recently interviewed some other bands who had made similar comments like how the straightedge was not as widespread as it was 5years or so ago
It is no-where near what it was five years ago
Its weird because the straightedge means so much to me, its vital to my life and its just not as visible anymore there seems to be less enthusiasm for it, the straightedge kids are still straightedge but it doesnt seem to light the spark that it once did
Who was the last great band you saw live?
I continually get to watch so many amazing bands but Hot Water Music were very good.
Is there any band you would really like to tour with?
There always seem to a load of bands Id like to share a tour with but Sick Of It All would be unbelievable. As musicians they are incredible (I mention I generally go see them every time they come over on tour as they are one of my favourite bands) The distillers and Dillenger Four also.
Do you guys organise the bands tours and merchandise?
Sort of yes weve had a bit of trouble in the past from booking agents so we try and do it ourselves
What sort of art/design input do you have for the merchandise?
We give our ideas to the designers although we only choose non-sweatshop clothing companies where we know the employees are being paid a wage and have representation from a union.
Are there any promotional ideas / advice you could give to any people in bands looking to make a name for themselves?
Never underestimate the power of word of mouth, make your own posters, always network with kids that you meet either at shows, promoters or in bands.
When you reflect upon your music and where its heading how do you see the bands sound evolving?
You will still know that its us thats playing the music, but youll see it become more quote unquote sophisticated we want to challenge ourselves. The lyrics will always have a social conscious.
Is there any particular point in your career in the band that you have been most proud of?
One of the best feelings Ive had has been being able to tour in Europe, it has definitely been a surprising response we didnt think at any of the shows there would be as many people as what have been turning out.
I think the defining moment was playing in a club called the Black Cat an underground club in Philadelphia with The Explotion and The Curse (I think all of that is right but my writing isnt making sense)
If you werent in the band what do you think you would be doing with your life?
I honestly dont know where I would be without it! I assume Id be doing something to do with music, I really dont give a shit about work, and the band has given me an outlet to express myself and at the same time given me hope.
What can you expect to find yourselves doing when you get home?
Day jobs, I work in an office and answer phones, Colin and Kevin are bike messengers and Mike manages a swimming pool. Its difficult to get time off of work so having flexible jobs makes life easier for us in the band, its a strain on money but we do not have families / kids to support or houses.
What is your opinion of the direction US policy is being pushed by Bush?
There seems to be a deep distrust at the moment for the way he is handling policy and trying to push for a war. His priorities seem focused on things, which arguably we should not get involved with. Things that he should be concerned with are at the back of his list and I think there could be alternatives to what hes trying to do.
What is your opinion of the Blair following Bushes lead?
They are both very powerful people and normal everyday people are going to be caught in the middle of whatever comes of their talks.
Anyway Jason and me had this huge discussion on Bush and I mentioned a book I have called
The Bush Dyslexicon and had he read it. Basically it is this really humorous book compiled by
? Of quotes and analogies based on mistakes hes made and things Bush has said in speeches. It completely tears him apart to the extent where you start to question how he came to be the president of the most powerful allied country in the world.
The book Jason had read was called Unfortunate Son which detailed how George W Bush basically had everything handed to him on a plate
-Its a story of American aristocracy; you dont know whether to laugh or to cry!
Are there any DC bands that you want to give shout outs to?
Striking Distance, this great band Super Chinchilla Rescue Mission and Majority Rule.
Thankyou to Jason for taking the time to do the interview before their set. Interview conducted by Phil Wilkey 9/10/02.