Interview with The Choke - Part 2

“We want them to come kicking and screaming back for more Choke, which is what they always do.”

By: Sarah L. Myers

Vocals: Cameron Eve / Guitar: Hott Deth / Bass: Josh “Knuckles” Machlin / Drums: Jonny Napalm


Thirsty: What has been the best city you’ve played so far on this Gang Asphyxiation tour?

JN: Chicago.

CE: Detroit, yeah, the people that we met that were at the bar, that were running the bar, and like chilling there - the locals - after we played and everything, we felt like we were in. The show, the people, the vibe. It was just great. We just have to say that we would not have been able to do the tour without Glen providing van services and driving services. He took a week off from loading in KISS, I don’t know if you’re familiar with KISS, he’s used to seventeen trailers, and we said, yeah it’s gonna be like that! Tour’s gonna be a lot like that, right Glen?

What’s the plan when you get back to New York? What are you guys going to be up to?

JN: Well, we’re doing a show right before the end of the year on the 29th at Cake Shop with some great Detroit bands and the Muldoons.

HD: And Lee Marvin Computer Arm.

JN: And the Choke and the Muldoons, and that will be great. And then New Years Eve, I hate playing on New Years so screw that. Boring. You know, at the beginning of the year we’ve got a lot of stuff to work on. Probably setting up more trips back to Chicago and stuff.

Do you think you’ll get back over to the UK next year?

JN: Probably.

CE: You never know, we’re thinking about Berlin. We want to do a little more Europe.

JN: I want to go to Spain. France.

CE: I’d like to be in Spain for my birthday. We’re looking at, there’s options, you know, maybe a support tour coming up. If that happens, like we don’t know! If you’d asked us last year if we were going to the UK, we’d be like ‘we can’t really afford it.’ And then Tony (Barber, the Buzzcocks) was like, ‘come finish doing all the vocals in London.’ And the idea was to have me go over and do the vocals and then Jonny, too. And we were like, ‘well, if two people are going, why don’t all four of us go and lay shows!’ And then we got the tour.

Had any of you been to the UK before?

JN: Cameron and I hadn’t.

JM: I’d never hung out in the pubs, and that was great to play all the pubs.

CE: Thanksgiving (was my first time there), it was Thanksgiving. We flew in, we left in the morning, we got there at like four in the afternoon, we were on a train for like two hours. We had jet lag.

HD: And Tony’s like, ‘get in the car!’

JN: We played a gig like a couple of hours after we got off the plane!

CE: We were playing with one of his original bands called Lack of Knowledge, which is on the Crass label. We like loaded, next thing we know we’re standing, it’s like Thanksgiving night, I had an omelette. It was damn good. Fish and chips. And we’re about to play a show. We’re a long way from Avenue B! But the thing is, you feel like you’re in a parallel universe but there you are. And it was great. I was a little intimidated I think at first. But then that first show we played was the most old school shit -

HD: Yeah, we got there and like half the Buzzcocks got up onstage and played with the other band!

CE: Yeah, no problem! No worries! No pressure!

JN: We were playing with real Crass records bands from the 1980s. Lack of Knowledge and Rubella Ballet.

CE: The Erratics.

JN: It was a really, really cool gig. And then the next night we got to play, by then at least I was kind of starting to feel like a person, you know, cause we were so jet lagged. But the next night we got to play the Dirty Water club which is an amazing party in London.

CE: I love it because at the end of the day it’s just a whole new group of people.

Does your New York crowd continue to grow each time? Are you seeing new people coming to the shows?

JN: Yeah, because we’ve booked ourselves that way. We put ourselves in situations where we’re constantly playing to different people. We put ourselves in different situations because we don’t want to play with the same three bands for four years like every other band in New York does. They play with the same three bands and then the same fifty people show up every time and so they’re under this impression, this illusion that they’re building their fan base when really they’re just playing to the same fifty people for four years. And that’s not any fun.

CE: And in terms of just generating word of mouth like, you know, people are catching on. It’s takes them awhile but they start showing up. We’ve got our loyalists. Even if you haven’t seen us, they know the name. Because our flyers are on every motherfucking light pole in New York City, and they were months before we ever even played a show.

JN: I’ve been arrested a few times for flyers. Handcuffed, finger printed, mug shot, everything.

CE: He had to do community service like Boy George.

JN: He chains up a male escort and gets a day of community service. I promote a live music event in the East Village and I have to go clean the park, you know?

HD: You know, there’s no grass roots New York anymore. The Village Voice is a piece of crap. You know what I mean?

JN: When we played with The Saints on Halloween the club on Avenue B got ticketed three hundred dollars because we put posters up for the show around the East Village.

HD: The only way someone’s going to know about your band is if you’re really huge already and it’s in all the papers.

Or the media misleads people into thinking some band is bigger than they really are, like the Strokes. People in New York didn’t even know who they were.

HD: Yeah, what about when Jonny went and saw the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and was like, ‘why are these guys popular?’ And half the crowd said the same thing.

JN: That drummer in the Strokes plays like a wet noodle.

CE: Like they didn’t really play when Jonny was around. They weren’t playing.

HD: Yeah, it’s all bullshit. Like, what about the Bravery?

CE: Did you hear about the letter that Jonny wrote to the Village Voice? Jonny had enough of the Bravery one day and just about enough of everybody assuming they know what New York rock n’ roll is and so he wrote a letter to the editor.

JN: I wrote a letter to the Village Voice, they made it the letter of the week. And it was basically, you know, I basically told them what I thought. The guy in the Voice wrote a piece about the Bravery and how terrible they were and I just thanked him and I said, you know, but let’s not forget that these kids, it’s not really their fault that they’re completely incapable of being original and creative. But at the same time, they’re really contributing to this awful trend of bands just going out of the way to just being as mediocre as possible but getting label support and becoming hype machines just because some guy, some corporate guy in an office somewhere, thinks it’s a good idea to take some ska kid from Washington, DC and put him in an awful band that makes Duran Duran look like something cool or something. These guys are so terrible they make Duran Duran look tough … The Strokes are, you know I wanted to give them a chance because they’d been hyped so much. We saw them open up for Iggy and I was like… they’re a good cure for insomnia basically. I just didn’t understand what all the hype was about. I think the girls like that singer guy cause he’s a crooner. That’s really all it’s about.

HD: He’s a pretty good looking guy.

JN: Yeah, he’s a pretty good looking guy.

HD: With tight jeans on his ass. (all laughing)

It’s like girl groups or the boy bands that record labels put together because it’s selling right now.

HD: They want something palatable and easily understood and not edgy.

JN: What’s really funny is that a lot of these record labels go out of their way to sign image band after image band and nine times out of ten they don’t make any money off these bands because no one wants to buy their stupid fucking records.

And if they do they’re not going to buy the second one.

JN: And the reason why all these record companies are crying because they’re like ‘oh no, we can’t sell any records cause everyone just buys it off the Internet now!’ But at the same time they’re ignoring the fact that they don’t sign any good bands so, I mean, yeah, the Internet doesn’t help but the fact that you haven’t signed a good band in ten years doesn’t help either.

HD: Like what about the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s? It’s like so obviously bullshit. Like it’s so obviously an act, and a put on. And it like reeks of effort, you know what I mean? Same with that Amy Winehouse shit. I can’t even believe people like that shite, you know? It’s so obviously manufactured.

JN: Calculated angst. Calculated attitude or manufactured attitude.

HD: That’s why I think we do go over well. Because you see we’re real. We are real people. We don’t have to act like jackasses in the bar and pretend we’re the drunkest dicks in the bar.

CE: You’re not going to see me walking the streets with my shirt off mumbling to myself. I mean, I’ll have my shirt on. (laughs)

As a front woman, who do you draw most of your influence from?

CE: (Laughs) Oh, myself!

I have to ask the influence question! It looks good!

CE: Well, a lot of it comes from me. A lot of it comes from the songs, I gotta be honest. I mean, I’ll tell you who I like. I’ve always loved Patti Smith. I think she’s a crazy good performer live. You know, people can say what they want about her but live I always got a lot from her. I love high energy, you know. I do love Tina Turner. I do love all those people. But I don’t really like, I just listen to … you know, Wendy from the Paybacks has a really strong, ballsy voice. I’ve never seen them live but I listen to that and I draw from that. She’s ballsy. But it’s this music. It just lets me be this whatever it is. I mean, I don’t know.

JN: It’s better if she doesn’t know. It’s better if she’s just herself because that’s what a really good rock n’ roll singer does.

CE: I try to be truthful. It’s my own energy.

What’s your favorite song to perform live?

CE: “Neutron Dance”! We’re really into the Pointer Sisters right now.

JN: “Talk to Me”. We never cut that song. For some reason we never cut it, so that must be our favorite one.

CE: It’s got this badass surf riff. I never get sick of it. If I didn’t get off by “Talk to Me” then I didn’t get off by, there’s a few different ones. But by the time we get to “Tough Kids” I always do.

JM: “Murder at the Arcade” has been fun.

CE: Murder’s been really fun this tour.

JN: We’ve done different sets for different tours, with a different lineup of songs. We enjoy putting a set together because we always wanted to make it really, really kind of powerful from beginning to end. But we’re not one of these bands that says ‘fuck, we have to play every song that we have!’ We’d rather play for 23 minutes like we usually do instead. Because bands in New York will actually say things like, ‘we need to play all eighteen songs of ours because if we don’t do that than the audience won’t understand the whole scope of the band. They won’t understand the whole scope of what we’re doing.’ And you know what? I don’t really give a fuck about the full scope of your band. I just wanna see a rock show.

HD: And be entertained, god dammit!

JN: I just wanna hear some rock n’ roll! Leave me a little bit of something to hear next time. We make it a point to not give the audience the whole scope of the band because we don’t want to give them the full scope. We want them to come kicking and screaming back for more Choke, which is what they always do.



Thirsty : January 2008 : Interview with The Choke - Part 1



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