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The Interrupters

Anticipating the annual pilgrimage of North QLD people to the Soundwave festival. We have decided to bring a little bit of Soundwave to NQ in the lead up. We will be running a series of interviews with Soundwave bands leading up to Soundwave 2015. Kris Peter’s kicks it off with The Interrupters.

What would ska punk and cheesy ‘80’s movie Valley Girl have in common?

And what would a background involving songs on the soundtrack to movies like Hairspray, Sorority Row and Mean Girls have to do with an emerging ska quartet that was one of the first bands announced for next year’s Soundwave festival? Add in legendary punk visionary Tim Armstrong and you would be justified in answering nothing, but the unlikely unison has helped shape LA ska punk band The Interrupters in more ways than one.
After a successful and promising solo career involving much of the above,

Aimee Allen (now Aimee Interrupter) has emerged as vocalist and front person for L.A band The Interrupters, and couldn’t be happier with the new direction in her life.
“We started out towards the end of 2011,” guitarist Kevin Bivona explained. “I was writing songs with Aimee for her solo record and I brought my brothers in to play and work on the record and we all got along so well we thought we’d turn it into a band so we started The Interrupters. On that same record Tim Armstrong had actually co – written a couple of songs for Aimee so when we started The Interrupters he was excited for us and came in with us to work as producer and co – writer and we were very fortunate to have him. He was an amazing force behind us making the record and starting the band.”

Armstrong, of course, is most famous for another, wildly successful punk outfit called Rancid, and played a big part in the evolution of The Interrupters. “Just growing up individually we all grew up listening to Rancid so he was in one of our favourite bands and we know all of his records so he would have been an influence even if he didn’t produce the record, but the fact that he did was really a dream come true for us, just having his energy in the studio made it come across the way it did and we’re all super happy with it so he’s definitely been a HUGE influence!”

Along with twin brothers Justin and Jesse, Kevin had witnessed Aimee’s talent up close through having her support their earlier band, and the evolution from the two separate bands was just a matter of timing. “I met all the brothers on tour when I was a solo artist,” Aimee countered, “and I became friends with all of them and when we got off the road I was like ‘dudes, we should get together and write and record’ and so Kevin and I did my solo record and when that was done I was like ‘I’m done with my solo career, let’s just make it a band’. It’s way more fun to make music and collaborate with your friends than just go at it alone.” “Me and the twins have been playing together our whole lives off and on,” Kevin continued, “and when we met Aimee all those years ago and watched her set every day we became big fans of her songwriting and her personality off stage. She’s a lot of fun. The thing is, I’m not a strong lead singer. I can sing a little bit, but I wouldn’t consider myself to be a strong singer and Aimee is the strongest singer that we’ve ever done music with so the second the twins came in to play on her solo record I was thinking about it and we all came to the same conclusion. Everyone in the band individually is doing what they’re best at. Aimee is the best at being a lead vocalist and front person. Jesse is the best at being a drummer, Justin is the best bass player and I’m the best guitar player so with all those efforts put together it just felt right. We could have added a horn section but we got along so well just the four of us we decided to keep it simple.”

That simpleness has resulted in the recently released self titled album that perfectly captures the up tempo vibe and personality of the band. Recorded in only a matter of days and mostly on first takes, the album features Armstrong guesting on lead single “Family” and proves the adage that when something feels right you just have to embrace it. “None of us actually planned to finish the album so quickly,” Kevin enthused, “but because it worked well and we are so happy with the end product we know it was right to do that. The difference on the next album will be that we are already writing for the next record but we’re going to take the same approach. With this album we all got together with our guitars and sat around a table with a little tape recorder and played everyone’s ideas and then everyone was feeling it so we started putting it together so basically for the next one we’re gonna take the songs back to the same table and try to do everything the same. Not that any of us were thinking like this, but it was a very cost effective way to make a record! But in saying that you can’t really duplicate something like that. You can’t work on a song for three months and get the same energy as just going in the studio and recording it when everyone is still into the song and it is still raw. It’s kind of like pick the take with the least fuck ups. There’s no looking for perfection in this type of music. We like imperfection and we try not to overthink it.”

With a female vocalist it is too easy to fall into the oft tried notion that sex sells, and in the past far too many bands have lived and died by the belief that a sultry and seductive beautiful front woman in next to nothing can smooth over any rough edges a band might have. Not so with The Interrupters, and particularly Aimee who sees her voice as her sexual weapon, rather than her femininity. “I guess Joan Jett is a big influence for me in that regard,” she offered. “I think she is super sexy and she never actually sold sex other than through her eyes and her guitar and her voice and that’s probably where much of my thoughts on that come from. I grew up really loving and admiring her and I think she’s sexy no matter what she does. She sells her songs in her voice and that’s sexy without showing her tits. Not that there’s anything wrong with people that do that, but it’s not what I choose for me.”

Another thing that stands The Interrupters out from the crowd is their decision to release their debut album not through the normal, accepted channels, but rather through the power of vinyl, a decision which could have seen their music base limited but instead shows courage and insight against the tide of popular thought. “Vinyl is the only way we released it,” Kevin said. “The thing is, the vinyl has a CD in the sleeve. We love vinyl! We’re all about collecting and the sound of it and we realized that a lot of people were going to be buying the album on I – Tunes anyway so in terms of the record itself, having that as a singular format, we’d rather just put the CD in with the record. The artwork’s bigger and you can actually read the lyrics without getting out a magnifying glass.”

Kris Peters

The Interrupters play the Soundwave festival in 2015. Tickets can be bought now through the Soundwave website.

Their self titled debut album is out now through Hellcat Records

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