Trying and doing since 2001
for 24 May 2004.
Interview with Killsadie, 12-17-99
Tonight in Seattle it is not raining. This is unusual for a winter night. Seattle's
winter weather is a several month long slice of a continuous downpour that starts
sometime in late September and continues on until June. It hardens people. A native
Seattleite I spoke with at a bus stop remarked that one required a "smile on their
face and a fire in their heart" to survive the winter months. Those that live in Jet
City find ways to cope. Some guzzle lattes, others shoot heroin. Still others make
music. Transplanted from Minnesota, now Seattle-based Killsadie is part of the latter
group. The rain offers few outlets for angst, outdoor sports are not an option.
Killsadie is forced inside, into themselves, and onto the stage. Fueled by inner demons,
a Killsadie performance explodes with deafening force, an obvious expression of how much
it hurts to be alive. It seems that each member has a storehouse of compressed pain that
they carefully nurture and harvest. When the time is right, much like a star collapsing
before going supernova, they gently squeeze their hurt until it is so dense, it sucks in
everything around it.
This evening I had the privilege of speaking with the members of Killsadie. From my left
sat guitarist BJ Woullet, guitarist Jay Clark, drummer Erin Tate, bassist Bob Eisensise,
and singer Steve Snere. Also on hand was roadie Andy Wolff and Aaron Edge of Himsa. An
incredibly hardworking band, Killsadie is perpetually on tour, most recently in an effort
to promote their newest EP, Half Cocked Concepts on Old Glory Records. Formed in 1996 the
group has survived a series of changes as members have come and gone, releasing various 7
inches and EPs under different labels along the way. The currently assembled group seems
as complex and layered as the music they create. On their newest album Killsadie offers
songs that are slower and more melodic than those found on previous releases. Still, by
no means sedate, each piece is set to detonate unexpectedly. So, in the living room of the
communal home of Killsadie, to the blue electric glow of muted porn, I ask the first
JW: What are your guys' favorite bands?
SS: My favorite Bands?
BJ: Of all time?
SS: Or at the moment?
JW: Howabout at the moment.
SS: At the moment? I'd have to say at the moment I'm in love with Bjork. Of all
time? Probably Guns and Roses.
BE: Motorhead, Anthrax, The Dwarves, Black Flag, Tony Bennet. That's pretty much it.
ET: R.E.M., Radiohead, The Beatles, The Zombies, The Stereo.
JW: The Stereo's from Minnesota, where you guys are from right?
ET: Some of them are, yeah. Himsa, Botch, ya know, sure. Bruce?
BJ: The Descendants. That's about it.
JC: I don't like music. Right now I'm all about jazz, so that's it. I don't
care about anything else.
JW: You like any jazz musician specifically?
JC: Joe Venuti.
JW: Do you think that you play better drunk?
BE: When we're drunk? Yeah, we play a lot better!
SS: I don't know if it's true or not, but we're a lot more free, I think.
ET: I play a lot worse. I definitely play a lot worse.
SS: We usually don't play drunk.
JC: But we have a lot more fun when we play drunk, that's for sure.
SS: Sometimes it's better not to though, in my opinion, that's just me though.
BE: Jay on the front of our record? He's totally gone.
JW: Is that picture, on the front of your album, is that you drunk?
JC: Oh yeah, that's me drunk.
ET: We played a few shows in Minneapolis, with that band Dillinger Four. We did an all
ages show and an ID show. We were all fine through the all ages show but for the ID show
we were completely wasted to the point that I couldn't play personally.
SS: The cover speaks for itself. Everyone thinks it's Jay getting all emotional and
insightful and really it's him just fucked up. <laughs>
BE: My amp blew up, or I blew up the person's amp I was borrowing at the all
ages show so during the ID show I had to play through the PA. I just had to use all my
drink tickets so I wouldn't think about what I was playing through.
JW: All you guys live together, like The Monkeys.
What Monkey do you think you resemble the most?
BJ: I would just like to say I'm Peter Tork.
ET: I don't like The Monkeys dude.
SS: I don't know. I don't know any of the names of the Monkey's, but I'm
the one with the shaggy hair.
JC: Oh, that guy!
ET: I'd have to say, uh, yeah. We're nothing like The Monkeys.
BE: We could have bed races.
SS: We're more like the Adam's Family really. <laughs>
Aaron Edge: <laughs>
JW: What's the most fucked up thing that's happened to
you on tour?
SS: We just got kicked out of Canada because we didn't have enough money to get in.
SS: She said that we needed at least $50 to get in.
JW: This is the border guard?
SS: Yeah, but when we walked in anyway, she was just like "yeah right"! She
said that if
we didn't have 50 bucks we'd get kicked out. We were supposed to play in Victoria
with Ink and Dagger and some other bands.
JW: So did you just go home?
ET: Another time our van broke down in the middle of Tennessee.
JC: That's the most fucked up story.
ET: We were on our way to play a show in god knows where, someplace in Tennessee.
BE: Johnson City Tennessee.
ET: Johnson City, and our van, we heard a *POP* noise when Jay was fuckin' driving, and
somehow he managed to veer off the freeway, onto the off ramp, and into the parking lot
of a gas station. We opened up our engine and it was smoking completely. It was
horrible. We ended up getting a hotel room, spending a lot of money that we really didn't
BE: The hotel room really wasn't that expensive. Remember, we had to walk to
go rent a U-haul?
ET: Yeah, we had to walk four miles in the pouring rain, to get a U-haul.
ET: We got a U-haul truck. How big was the truck?
BE: 20 foot.
ET: We got a 20 foot truck that we had to push our big van onto, which didn't fit.
The back two tires were hanging off the trailer and three of us had to ride in the van.
We spent the next seven days finishing the rest of our shows and gradually the straps
that were holding the two front tires to the trailer were wearing thin. The van would
rock back and forth so bad that we would get sea sick. It was a horrible seven days.
BE: We blew a trailer tire because the van was too big for the fenders of the trailer.
When the van rocked the van tires would dip down onto the trailer fenders and rip chunks
of rubber off. Jay drove the whole time.
ET: He was the only one we trusted enough to drive the contraption.
JC: Dumb enough to drive.
ET: Yeah. <laughs> So there were about seven days in there that we pretty were
almost vomiting or felt like we were going to die. We spent all the money we had and pretty
much didn't eat for like four days straight.
JW: Is all that hassle worth it?
ET: It's always worth it. I felt good that we finished the shows. We had talked
about going straight home, but we didn't because we didn't have enough money, so we
kept going and hoped that we would get paid enough at the shows to make it home. We
finally made it back on nearly an empty tank and with about 3 dollars. It was well worth
JW: OK, then what's the worst thing about touring?
BE: Peanut butter.
JW: Peanut butter?
ET: On that very same tour, between the six of us, we consumed about 19 pounds of peanut
butter because we didn't have anything else to eat. On the last tour we got four or
five cases of ramen and just ate.
SS: Arizona is the worse thing about a tour. <laughs>
AE: That's true!
SS: We tagged it "hot ass Africa" because giraffes run in the streets. Wild
beasts. You have to watch out for the fuckin' anaconda snakes that will come and
fuckin' get you.
BE: That was on one of our 8 people in the van tours.
SS: Yeah we had 8 people in the van on that tour. There was one point where we all we
just stripped to our boxers except for one guy who was totally naked.
BJ: We got pictures to prove it.
ET: It was pretty disgusting.
JW: What is standard capacity for your van?
SS: Shouldn't really be more than six.
AE: It should be like 3.
SS: Yeah, really it shouldn't be 3 but we squeeze people around all the fuckin'
equipment. If we didn't have the equipment we could fit all kinds of fuckin' people.
ET: Somewhat comfortably it fits the 6 of us.
BJ: I think it works just fine.
ET: Yeah, it's pretty good. It's not bad, but the tour where we had 8 people was
SS: This next tour we're gonna have a tour bus so it'll be all right.
JW: So at one of your shows I heard someone refer to
you guys as the "band with the black guy". What do you
think of that label?
ET: That happens every show.
JC: What the devil!
EA: I actually have heard that before. Not in a bad way though.
ET: People will be like, "your guitar player um, uh, you know, the black guy."
It actually happens a lot. If you think about it, in the kind of music that we play and
the music that a lot of people like us play there's not a lot of quote and unquote
"minorities" involved in the music.
JC: You mean majorities bitch. Don't fuck with me.
ET: <laughs> Then you fuckin' talk about it!
JC: Go ahead, I'll just correct you.
ET: <laughs> OK, OK, then there aren't a lot of "majorities" involved
with the music. On the tour before last we had Jay and a Japanese fellow with us and it
was the same thing. They were like "your roadie, uh the Japanese kid". People
just aren't used to kids who aren't white folk like us devils.
BE: They're also like, "hey it's the guy with the tattoo arm!"
ET: It happens like all the time. Me and Steve are called "the mods". Jay
gets called "the black guy". Bob is the "tattoo arm guy". You know,
people just categorize us.
SS: Yeah, Jay how do you feel about that?
JC: I don't want to talk about these kinds of things.
ET: OK Jay in two minutes or less. Go.
EA: One sentence about it, with commas.
JC: It's expected.
JW: Do you guys tour in the south at all? Do you get shit
from the heartland?
ET: When we broke down in Tennessee, that time, actually we first called a tow truck to
get out van out of the gas station parking lot. Jay was pretty frightened to get out of
the van, as he always is. Anytime we play anywhere in the south he's pretty
BE: That goes back years and years when Jay and I were in a different band and we played
in South Dakota at the Pomp Room and there was anti-black graffiti on the bathroom walls.
Jay just went in to go pee he got all upset and I didn't understand why. I thought I
did something. Then I went into the bathroom and I saw what he saw and it didn't hit
me until then that Jay wasn't just Jay you know? That other people see Jay as other
than, you know, Jay. I was like oh fuck!
ET: It goes both ways. Sometimes when we are in the south and we stop at a gas station,
like the five of us will pile in, people will be like look at the funny boys with funky
hair and tattoos. Then Jay will walk in and heads will turn and people look at us weird.
Or we were in Omaha, Nebraska and this guy walked up to Jay and proceeded to go off on the
rest of us about how we were white and Jay must have been a jerk because he was hanging
out with us white folk and that we were all devils and he must be putting himself down by
hanging out with devils like us.
BE: Like that wasn't putting himself down by just smoking crack! <laughs> As
if Jay was really putting himself down by playing in a band with some guys he grew up
with. Did he hug you Jay?
JC: No, but he hugged Knol because I told him that Knol was OK.
JW: All of you seem to really express yourselves through
your music. What do you think about the recent turn toward hit single
oriented music and television?
BE: How do you spell that? <laughs>
BJ: The recent turn?
JW: Yeah, because in the early nineties grunge seemed to be the prevalent music of radio
and television. It focused more on expressing feelings and emotions through music but now
you've got pop singles like Backsteet Boys, N'sync.
ET: All I can say is that if we could do that, man would we! I mean they just look so
much better than we do.
BJ: The thing most people don't realize is that they don't write their own music.
They're not expressing anything. The only thing that they are expressing are their
talents like being able to dance or sing and being attractive.
BE: It's a marketing tool.
BJ: We have that plus we write our own music. I think that soon, chart topping music
will be taken over by people who express themselves.
ET: It's always in turns ya know? Who would have thought that The Promise Ring would
have had a video on MTV when they first started.
BJ: Who would have thought that a year and a half after they broke up Refuse would become
the biggest thing?
SS: Even Nirvana. I mean they were basically just pop, but they had this serious edge to
it. I think it caught a lot of people off guard.
JW: Where do you think punk is headed?
ET: Punk is headed exactly where it's always been.
BJ: This is an area for Maximum Rock and Roll.
ET: It's just hit a point where it's not to go above or beyond that. It's gonna
have its Blink 182's. It's gonna have its Killsadie's, and its crusty punk dirty
kids. It always gonna be just one of those things where people, like kids begging for
change on the streets, and people who live in a house together, like us, and will be
considered punks. And also people who play on their computers and listen to classical
music, and just because they look a little funny are considered punks. It's one of those
things that basically the youth who are rambunctious and considered anarchists create.
It's not gonna be limited by a style of music. It's always gonna be around and it's
pretty much gonna be exactly what it has been.
SS: It's just a bunch of kids playing music.
JC: I thought it was a bunch of kids trying to get drunk and shit.
SS: It's that too.
BE: If we're talking about punk music, I don't think it's ever going to go
anywhere. It's just the same energy, it can be in places where you wouldn't expect
it. It's just a certain attitude in the music that makes it punk. You just go at it
with that kind of enthusiasm, but as far as how it looks and shit, I think everybody's
concept is bullshit. Because if you look a certain way than you're labeled a certain
way and then nobody gets to know you, they know your look. It's a harsh reality that
that's true but, you know, who cares what you look like!
ET: Obviously the Backstreet Boys care.
BE: You know Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears are both owned by Disney? They're
kinda like cartoons. <laughs>
JW: So what sucks about Seattle?
ET: So far we totally like it. It's been really good.
SS: We played three shows and the third show was in front of 800 people! That's not
BJ: I would like to say that I don't hate anything here, but it's a very rich city.
Sometimes it's hard to deal with that.
ET: Especially in the area we live in.
BE: I don't like all the hills, because I ride a little dirt bike, and the hills are
what sucks about Seattle.
JW: If you were a tree what tree would you be?
ET: I'd be a money tree.
SS: I'd be some weed man!
BE: I'd be a shoe tree.
courtesy of John Winters