By Aaron James. Published on 4/10/2014.
Two weeks ago Aaron "no coast" James hopped in the Stick To Your Guns van outside the Marquis Theater in Denver, CO to chat with STYG guitarist Josh James, who was later joined by fellow guitarist Chris Rawson, and briefly by drummer George Schmitz. Notably, Terror frontman Scott Vogel also joined the conversation for a few minutes.
In the email reply you had sent about this interview, there was note stating that your answer to every question will be "Emmure should be on this tour." Is there an underlying story somewhere here?
Josh: Honestly Emmure should be on this tour because [laughing], honestly Lambgoat is one of our favorite pastimes on tour no matter what band I've ever been in. Anytime news comes out the immediate reaction is to go to Lambgoat and read out all the comments, and a comment that has continuously shown itself over the last couple of years is, "Emmure should be on this."
This is intriguing to me as Emmure was here two days ago at the Summit Music Hall, and the entire tour put on a great and energetic control show. I was just seeing if there was any dirt there.
Josh: No way, it was just a pure reference to awesome Lambgoat comments.
So Evergreen Terrace to Stick To Your Guns... how did that whole shift transpire?
Josh: Well, I've known the guys in Stick To Your Guns for awhile. Evergreen and STYG met in 2008 on Warped Tour and then right after Warped we did a tour together in Europe, so I got to know Jesse [Barnett] really well, who from between then and now is the only member that's the same. Evergreen just kind of started winding down and we made a decision to kind of go part time, not tour as much. The band had been going on so long and there were some internal problems with the band and it was just like, "hey maybe this is the best thing right now for the band to take a break," and then while we were taking a break Stick To Your Guns hit me up and said, "hey, do you want to play guitar for us?" and I said "absolutely."
I've known Jesse for quite some time and then Chris [Rawson] I've known for years because he was in Walls of Jericho and Evergreen and Walls of Jericho used to do shows together in the early 2000's. So it was just kind of like, "yeah, this band has a cool message, I know all the dudes, so yes I want to go back on tour and hangout."
Is there still any Casey Jones left in any of this?
Josh: Casey Jones is officially over, so that was another thing. With Casey Jones it was always a part time thing. There was never any intention for it to be some full time touring band or anything like that. And it just got to the point where some of the guys were doing school so much and other guys were in different bands that we just got the idea to do one last record a couple of last tours and then just breakup. That was the intention of the last record, so that's exactly what we did. I did, however, miss the first Stick To Your Guns tour I was supposed to do because I did the last Casey Jones tour instead.
So you guys just played Self Help Fest with A Day to Remember.
Josh: We did, that was last Saturday.
So how was that?
Josh: That thing was insane.
Like insane how?
Josh: In every aspect. The crowd was like 12,000-13,000people. I think for America it's been a long time since I played a fest that's just been run so well organized. It went so easy and it didn't have too many bands. They only had 2 stages, they had 17 bands, and the bands only overlapped like 10 minutes, and I feel like a lot of times now you go to a festivals it's like 3 or 4 stages, a hundred bands, all this shit you really can't just keep your attention because there's so much shit going on.
So who else was on it?
Josh: There was Bring Me the Horizon, A Day To Remember, Memphis May Fire... it was all the bands that when there's any news on Lambgoat it's the ones that have the best comments. So there was them and Issues, Attila... that's all that I can remember.
Speaking of Attila, did you run into Chris Fronzak there?
Josh: I did run into Fronz. He was wearing a gold chain, he had some glasses, and possibly some other jewelry... backwards hat.
So do you know that guy?
Josh: Yeah, we've toured with them a few times. Here's what I'll say about Attila [pauses to think]...
He seems like quite a character.
Josh: They're awesome guys. They're like really nice guys. I love watching the band because I think it's such a spectacle. It's a fun thing to watch. I don't necessarily agree with all the things that Attila's about, but I think there's a part of it that's for show and a part that's real. However, the guys are super nice and we've never had any issues with them.
[Chris Rawson from Stick To Your Guns jumps in the van]
Josh: Dude, we're doing a Lambgoat interview.
Chris: So is it cool if I just sit?
Jump right in. Let's talk about the forthcoming STYG album. Give us the hard sell; why should people buy it?
Josh: Why shouldn't they?
Josh: Plus, Emmure should be on this.
Chris: What's the Lambgoat comment about "they made me lift my scrotum and look in my asshole?" Some band... a long time ago something happened and the cops made them like lift their balls as they got strip searched or something. So for a long time that was getting posted, no matter what was happening, it's like the Emmure comment.
[The comment Rawson's referring to was the result of this infamous news item. - editor]
So Emmure were just here Sunday and I wanted that interview so badly, because there's so much rumor and hype on this Frankie vs. Vince (The Acacia Strain) fight
that may or may not have happened. I just want some facts.
Josh: You know how some people, in their house they have just like hundreds of thousands of dollars stashed away? You know what I have in my house? Cell phone footage of the Vincent vs. Frankie fight.
Josh: It's like my own little piece of gold, and it's just sitting in the closet.
So there was a physical confrontation?
Josh: There was a physical fight. There was a nipple bite. There was a lot of things [laughing]. There was about 20-30 people that just stood around and watched it. It was in the back parking lot of Northern Lights in Albany, I believe. It was on an Emmure, Evergreen Terrace, and Stick to Your Guns tour.
So was there a winner, or was it just like, "hey, we play in bands and we're fighting and whatever"?
Josh: I think the true winners were the people that got to watch it happen.
Ok, so the new Stick To Your Guns album... John Feldmann is producing it and he's not really known for producing hardcore/metal, so how did you end up working with him?
Josh: The last couple albums we did with Bill Stevenson at the Blasting Room, and that's who we initially wanted to do, but he was all booked up. So we made a list of producers and Chris said John Feldmann, and we said, "yeah, that would be sick, but that'll never happen." And then we just threw it on the list, more for shits and giggles, and then he was the first person to respond back and he said that he wanted to do the record.
So we went and had a meeting with him and we liked the stuff that he had to say. We thought that would be the least safe thing that we could do, do a Stick To Your Guns record with Feldmann, and I think he maybe thought the same thing for him. So it was out of the box for both of us and I think that it will show on the record. I think the next record is the same Stick To Your Guns but a different Stick To Your Guns at the same time.
Chris: To me it's still like Diamond, but there's something new to it that tells you the band has an evolution about it.
Josh: We can't tell ya unless we show ya, and I can't show ya because you work for Lambgoat.
Wo with Stick To Your Guns having released material on Century Media and Sumerian Records, what's the biggest difference between the two?
Chris: Neither one of us were with Stick To Your Guns when Century Media was the label. We could talk about Eulogy or Trustkill to Sumerian.
Josh: I don't want to trash talk any labels.
So let's talk about how Stick To Your Guns has changed since the addition of Josh.
Josh: I can't tell how it's changed because I wasn't there beforehand, but I hope it's been a good change.
Chris: I don't think the band has really changed all that much. Like I don't want to talk shit on anyone, but basically we got rid of a problem. There's just a mentality that comes with being in this band. Personalities change and people evolve and one person was going a different direction than four of us, so then when that person left we tried to get someone who was on the same page.
Josh: I think the biggest difference is we've just collectively become more organized.
So is Josh James as crazy as he looks?
Chris: I think he looks like a regular guy.
Josh: I'm just a regular guy doing regular things.
So you introduced Crosses on Jimmy Kimmel on national TV?
Josh: [laughing] I didn't introduce them; I just had a good time.
So were you there to support your Sumerian label mates?
Josh: We all went just to kind of check it out. I'd never heard Crosses so I figured, hey, might as well go check it out on Kimmel.
So the tour you're on right now with Terror... tell us about the legend that is Scott Vogel.
Chris: He's an incredibly nice guy.
Josh: I'll tell you something: he is way crazier than he looks. That's the truth. Vogel is awesome. I think we've all known him for a really long time and he's definitely the same guy he's been for as long as I can remember. He's a good time. He's out of his mind, but he's also this super caring person and a good guy to hang out with.
Chris: There could be footage of him kissing Jesse on the mouth the other night.
Chris: Yeah, we played a song...
Josh: His favorite Stick To Your Guns song.
Chris: He came up to the mic and I saw him singing along, and I was like, "oh, he wants to sing this part"... and all these kids are crawling all over Jesse and then he just pushed through and grabbed Jesse and kissed him on the mouth.
Josh: I thought he was going to take the mic as well, and instead... kiss.
[Josh sees Scott Vogel outside the Marquis and brings him in the van]
Chris: Scott, remember when you kissed Jesse the other night?
Josh: We were just telling Lambgoat about that.
Scott: That's a really deep situation. I think I got interviewed for Lambgoat once and it was right here in front of the Marquis. Did I just get pulled into Lambgoat?
I'm doing a interview for Lambgoat and the question was: tell us about the legend that is you. And then Chris was talking about you and Jesse and a kiss.
Scott: Ok. Well, Scott Vogel in 2014 likes to take walks, which I just did. Not to exciting... movies, walks...
What kind of movies?
Scott: Anything good. Dramas are my favorite. I've been into Orange Is the New Black.
Josh: Orange Is the New Black is sick. He's also a big fan of The First 48 hour type shows.
Scott: Yes, like real true forensic science shows, not the acted ones. I stay up till five in the morning watching forensic science.
So this story about you and Jesse the other night?
Scott: Well, not to go too deep into it... me and Jesse had a really heartfelt talk that day.
Josh: That makes this even more beautiful...
Scott: Before the song had played, he...
Can we clarify which song this is?
Scott: It's actually my favorite Stick To Your Guns song, "Some Kind of Hope." It was my favorite when I got the record before it was out. Like I had the pre-release thing. It was called "Slayer," so now on my iPod it's called "Slayer." [sees a Dead Milkmen patch] That's a Dead Milkmen patch. I don't want to be here too long and steal the interview, but that's like the first hardcore punk band I ever saw. Anyhow, we had this heartfelt talk about some real life stuff, and before they played the song, he addressed that stuff on stage. I can tell he was kind of addressing it. And then they went into that song and I was overwhelmed so... my first reaction was to stage dive and then too many people were stage diving and onstage, so all I could do was get to him. So I gave him a little kiss.
Josh: I was blown away by it because he gets on stage and I'm like, "he's just going to sing this part."
Scott: I was going to try to do that too.
Josh: And then you get there and you just spun him around, and right on the mouth...
Scott: Yeah, but I don't think I'm too crazy anymore.
[Scott gets up to leave the van]
Scott: I would also like to say that I check Lambgoat often. It's a strong news source.
Josh: I already went there. It's the number one news site when you're in a band. You hear something happened and then the reaction is go check Lambgoat and read the comments out loud.
Scott: I won't do that. I use it for news, but I don't want to hear about what a loser retard I am. I want to know what's going on.
Thanks, Scott. So Josh and Chris, you guys toured with For Today, right?
Josh: Awwww, here we go.
You knew this was coming.
Josh: Yeah, we toured with For Today.
So what's your take on the drama surrounding that band in the last year or so?
Josh: I feel like since that band started, it's been drama. It's Christianity, so it's drama.
So last month For Today frontman Mattie Montgomery accused Lambgoat, Alternative Press, and others of being willing to throw For Today under the bus and to put their family's well-being in jeopardy just for a few more hits on their websites. Would you say that's a fair assessment?
Josh: Sure... um, who cares? I mean really, who cares? I feel like that's just going out of the way to try to get a few more hits.
Chris: They're doing that to try and get attention to themselves.
Josh: I feel that's what they're accusing everyone else of doing... they're saying, "Hey, these websites are putting my life in danger, my family in danger." Well,
people are going to check that out.
[van door opens]
Chris: Hey, what's up Andrew [Minervini, of Hundredth]? Andrew, this is Lambgoat.
Andrew: Hey, and I'm going away. [van door closes]
Josh: I can't wait to see you try to transcribe this interview.
Chris: There's people just walking in.
Josh: [returning to For Today] But I think, who cares about what he says about anything.
[van door opens]
Josh: Hey, Jesse [Stick To Your Guns]. We were just discussing For Today with Aaron from Lambgoat.
Jesse: Hey, what's up, I'm grabbing my hoodie and I'm out.
[van door closes]
Josh: So back to it... I don't think it's a secret that Stick To Your Guns is not a fan or a supporter of For Today.
So you guys have been on a lot of tours in your careers. On what tours have you felt the most out of place?
Josh: When you say "out of place," what do you mean? Like fuck this I don't want to be here? Or, this crowd really hates my band, or like we don't match with any of these other bands?
One of each.
Josh: Sounds Of The Underground 2006 when I was in Evergreen Terrace... it was Gwar, Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth, In Flames, Trivium, Terror, The Chariot, Evergreen Terrace, Horse the Band. That was one with Evergreen Terrace where were like, well...
I remember that, but I saw it at Sokol Underground in Omaha, Nebraska. It was As I Lay Dying, Evergreen Terrace, Terror, and Black Dahlia Murder.
Josh: You guys got just the show. That shit was sick. You got the show, but as for the actual festival, that was the only time that I ever felt like my band could leave this tour right now and it wouldn't matter because we're playing for like... the majority are just like metal heads and they don't want to hear this.
Now what tour did I not want to be on? Well, the For Today tour that we did in 2012. There were just so many things happening, like people being baptized in dumpsters and like prayer circles and stuff like that... that just made me not want to be around that. I also still wanted to be on tour and play new shows. I think it was really cool for us to be on that tour because those kids that came to see For Today, we told them what we felt and what we believed in, so maybe it affected one or two of those kids and maybe they left with a different way to view the world.
Chris: This has nothing to do with beliefs, but like any tour... For Today was one of these bands where you are playing like moderate sized venues and you don't strike your drums. You're an asshole, that is what it is.
Josh: For people that don't understand what that means, it's when the headlining band sound checks before the show... they leave their drum kit up on the drum riser the entire night so the other support bands have to put their drums in front of the headlining band's drums. This just causes less room for the support bands to have on stage and it's a big pain in the ass, and it fucking sucks.
Chris: And the worst is a lot of those bands have a drum tech. They have a guy that they pay to set up the drums, break down the drums, do all that shit. So make that motherfucker do his job and move the fucking drums. If for some reason you're reading this and you're in bands that don't strike your kits, you're a fucking dick.
Josh: Yeah, we don't like you.
Chris: I personally hate you; I think you're a piece of shit. If you don't strike your drums and you're playing a small venue and you know it's going to eat up all the room on the stage, you're just being an asshole. And if you use the excuse, "well, when I was a opening band I had to play in front of someone else's," I don't care about what band you had to open for. They were assholes too. Just stop being a dick; strike your drums.
So on Lambgoat we've seen the royalty checks for tiny amounts. Are you guys actually getting paid for album sales?
Chris: I've never received a check, ever.
Josh: I got an 8 cent royalty check the other day that I posted on my Instagram. I'm never going to cash it. I'm just going to frame it. Anytime I've been in a band that's received royalty checks from a label it's been a small amount of money that's just gone in the bank account and been used to pay for gas to get us over a couple shows on tour or to pay for drum heads. Bands our size anyway aren't going to be making millions of dollars off fucking record royalties, that's just the facts.
So are you guys making a living from the band?
Josh: Sure, 100%, but that's from touring. That's why were always on tour. It's a vicious cycle: we go on tour to live but we live to go on tour.
So does anyone have part time or side jobs?
Josh: No one has side jobs. It was the same with Evergreen, were able to sustain off of touring. If you're a smart band and you have a decent fan base you can make it work. You just got to be smart with your money. We go on tour with a lot of bands that we see do real dumb shit with their money, like getting a bus when their guarantee doesn't even cover that, or bringing out all these techs and different crew members. We just try to be tour smart.
So tell me about Ash Avildsen?
Josh: He is the founder of Sumerian Records and he used to sing in Reflux.
So any idea what his key to making Sumerian Records successful is?
Josh: I couldn't tell you. He seems like someone who whenever he tries to go for something, he goes for it, and he accomplishes it.
So continuing now... Rotting Out just had their band broken into over the weekend. Every time a band is robbed, people tend to say "why are bands leaving valuable things in their vehicle?" Is it time to start having band members sleep in the van? What's your take on that?
[van door opens]
Josh: George [Schmitz], this is Aaron. We're doing a Lambgoat interview.
George from Snakeater in Kansas City, I lived in Kansas City for 3, almost 4 years.
George: Shut the fuck up, where at?
George: Fuck yeah, that's sick.
So how's playing for Stick To Your Guns going?
George: Yeah, it's sick. Stick To Your Guns is not involved in pyramid schemes. Stick To Your Guns doesn't have any members that suddenly join groups that convince them to believe in God and alienate your friends.
[van door closes]
So back to the question at hand...
Chris: I have a tidbit of information for that, not trying to brag that we're cooler than Rotting Out in any way. Rotting Out gets their keyhole punched in at a venue. We're paranoid about everything. We manage to just forget to lock the van while we're playing, in the same spot, but nobody broke into our van.
Josh: Like right now you're kind of inside our house. We don't really go to hotels. We don't really stay at people's houses. We sleep in here. I think all it takes is just one day of wrong place, wrong time. Sometimes you can't get to a bank cause some states don't have certain banks. So sometimes you go 3-4 days without making a deposit, and sometimes you just happen to get robbed. That just happens and it sucks and it's a fucking bum out, but I mean, it's not their fault for leaving their backpack with their laptop inside of their van, because their van is pretty much essentially their home.
Chris: But what are you going to do if somebody wants something bad enough they're going to smash a window?
Josh: But then you also hear about so and so just left their backpack with their laptop in the green room at the venue and somebody stole it. If somebody wants something bad enough they're just going to take it, and that's really shitty and that fucking sucks and that had to be a huge bum out for Rotting Out cause it was the end of their headlining tour. They didn't play Self Help Fest because of it. All you can do is try to be as safe as possible, but if someone tries harder to get what you have, then they're going to get it.
So what bands should people be checking out?
Josh: ...Stick To Your Guns?
Josh: Well Emmure should be on this. Um, I feel like Lambgoat covers a pretty vast majority of aggressive types of music.
Chris: Yeah, if you go to Lambgoat you have a pretty good handle on things that are going on, I guess.
So in current news, in the metalcore scene... Tim Lambesis... what's your take on this whole situation?
Chris: I never listened to As I Lay Dying. I never knew the dude, but if you're going to go so far as to hire someone to kill your ex-wife or wife, I don't know, you're a piece of shit. You're not a good human being. I don't care if you're a Christian, I don't give a fuck if you're willing to do something like... you're already mental, already too far gone and you already deserve what you're going to get. I don't know the guy, I'm just basing it off of what I've read. Maybe some shit comes out and maybe he's completely innocent and it's all some weird entrapment thing, and I don't understand all the facts... then that sucks that his name got dragged through the mud for something that he potentially didn't do.
In the name of wrapping this up, last time Stick To Your Guns was in Denver it was at the Summit Music Hall, correct?
Josh: With The Story So Far.
That same night I was at Close Your Eyes at Marquis, but I heard a lot about a big fight that night. What was the deal with that?
Chris: The event at Summit was basically security. A big giant man gripped up a little kid and was like choking him out and dragging him outside, and then we tried to stop it, and then Jesse went off stage and it was like I guess were going off stage.
Josh: Anytime we would call somebody out, we have no clue who they are or who they're affiliated with, or who they're not affiliated with. If we see someone treating someone else like a piece of shit then we'll address that, because that's not the right thing to do. You shouldn't treat someone like that.
If you're a 500 lb guy you shouldn't grab a 100 lb kid in a chokehold and then slam him on the ground and drag him outside and throw him onto the sidewalk. Especially not if you're a security guard at that type of place and you have the barricade and kids are going to be trying to come over to sing along and crowd surf. It's more of a concert environment. But your job, if you're a security guy, is to catch people, make sure they don't get hurt. Sure, they might be excited and try to high-five a singer and sing along or whatever, but then just guide them back into the crowd. Some security dudes just have this huge power trip.
Chris: But if we see something like that, we try to put a stop to it, cause we want you to want to come back to one of our shows whether you're a giant dude or a little kid, not "I went there and security were assholes" or "the dudes in the pit were assholes." We don't want anyone to be assholes. We want everyone to be welcome. If anyone's being assholes, we just want it to stop. We want you to come back and enjoy our shows and be kind to everyone.