Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Carlos Izurieta of the band Police and Thieves

Carlos from Police & Thieves
Photo by Fredrik Malthe
Carlos Izurieta sings for the band Police & Thieves and is one of the really cool guys who helped out my school last year by donating items for the Hardcore for Education fundraiser.  It was very cool to meet Carlos in person at the React! Records Showcase in September.  He is really smart and really nice! I hope you enjoy the interview! 

PMAKid: What are your three favorite books and why?

a. Hammer of the Gods by Stephen Davis. I know people hate on Zep but I grew up on them and still dig them, plus the book inspired one of my favorite movies, "Almost Famous." I mean who wouldn't want to travel with their favorite band?

b. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, really connected with me when I was in high school, since it was a time, I felt really alienated and ostracized. I think everyone goes through these emotions at some point in their life, while trying to find their identity and place in life, I think this book does a really good job upon touching on these themes. It's also interesting to note that after this book was published, it drove the author into hiding because of all this unwanted fame and notoriety it brought him. It was really too bad since he might have had a few more masterpieces in him, if he hadn't turned into such a recluse.

c. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, I think it's a great read on so many levels, the description of  Paris at that time and the cast of historical characters who were inspired by living there is incredible and inspiring.

PMAKid: What are your three favorite songs and why?

Carlos: That's a really tough question, for me its way harder than the book one, since music has always been a huge part of my life since I was born. So, i'll try to narrow it down to some of my favorite lyrics.

a. In your face by 7 seconds
Lyrics: "If i can give a f**k, you better start, so...use your head be aware give a f**k!"

Besides being a short, hardcore banger, Ian Mackaye sings backups on this song, it's a killer track, with posi lyrics in not the most posi form!

b. Dull by Samiam
Lyrics: "its not too late to change what you've become"

I've always wondered who this song was about as there are specific mentions of Gilman, the Doughboys and a funeral. I like it when bands drop facts like this in songs. But my favorite part is the line about it not being too late to change what you've become. I feel like that line is a constant reminder of how we can affect change in our lives as well as others. It could be a mantra of sorts to go along with the PMA.

c. Life is beautiful by Ryan Adams
Lyrics: "Remember, you're the one that sings and it's a gift. And
life's a beautiful thing. Oh, don't waste it."

It's hard sometimes not to feel sorry for yourself or really get down on yourself when things don't go the way we planned it. Sometime life doesn't make sense, but what I gathered from these lyrics is that life is a gift that we can't waste on feeling sorry for ourselves or waiting around or things to change. I think it speaks to the theme of self empowerment and making the most of our lives, because our time on this earth is so limited.

PMAKid: You sing in the band Police & Thieves from Washington, DC. Can you tell me about the members of your band? What other bands has everybody been in and what do they do outside of the band?


  • I was in a band called Worn Thin before this and currently work for a scientific non-profit organization.
  • Paul our drummer was in a band called Bleeder Resistor, he is a middle school teacher.
  • John our guitar player was in a band called Scanner Freaks and is now going to school to be a hair stylist/ barber.
  • Rich our bassist was in a band called Four Letter Lies and Onset, he currently does sales for a computer software firm.
  • Sean was in Four Letter Lies as well Scurvy Dogs and currently works for Freddie Mac.
  • Austin our 6th member and fill in bass player was in the Frontline, Savageland as well as Have Heart. He currently works at a fabric & textile shop as well as rocks the 3rd guitar in GIVE.

Police & Thieves
Photo by Todd Pollock
PMAKid: You have released records with Youngblood Records and the recent split 7" with Remission on Amendment Records (which is GREAT!!). Are you guys working on any new material?

Carlos: Yes in a few weeks our new record "Fracturing" will be released as a 12" EP on Youngblood Records. We have 2 new songs, that we will be recording soon for a comp on XCrucial Response RecordsX. We also will probably record a Chain of Strength cover as well as a World's Fastest Car cover.

PMAKid: On the recent split 7" with Remission, both bands listed the lyrics for the songs in both English and Spanish. I know that Remission is from South America, but you guys are from DC. What is your connection with Spanish? I can tell from your name that your family is probably originally from Central or South America. Were you born here in the United States or what? How did you get into hardcore music in the first place?

Carlos: Our connection is based in friendship, as I started talking to Pablo a while back because I saw they were a South American hardcore label and I thought that was awesome. He suggested we do a split with Remission and we were stoked to do it because we really dig Remission and the release would be in South America.

I was born in South America, in Quito, Ecuador, I moved to D.C. when I was 5, so I have pretty much lived here all my life. I still speak, read and write fluently in Spanish thanks to my parents who made sure we never forgot our language and  culture.

I got involved in hardcore, towards the end of high school, through a few people, namely my sister Julie and my friend Mick. My sister Julie, who is a year younger than me had her room right next to mine and would blast Fugazi, Danzig and Metallica all the time, so that's how I got exposed to hardcore related music.

During this time I mainly listened to U2, the Beastie Boys,and REM. Through the Beastie Boys I was turned onto Minor Threat and Bad Brains. Once I got to college I met this kid named Mick who turned me onto Murphy's Law, Sick Of It All and Government Issue. My first show was at the old 9:30 club with Murphy's Law, that was truly a game changer in my world as I had never felt that sort of raw energy and emotion as I did when I was slam dancing and stage diving. Back then the neighborhood surrounding the old 930 club as sketchy and like a barren wasteland, compared to the tourist friendly/ Disney world atmosphere it has taken on today. Don't get me wrong I'm glad it's changed as I would be terrified stepping out of the metro and sprinting those few hundred feet to the dingy, dirty club. Some of my favorite shows were at this club, like the first time I saw Damnation AD, Quicksand, Four Walls Falling and Clutch when they were a hardcore band.

Police & Thieves
PMAKid: I ask a lot of people this question and get all kinds of music. What does music mean to you personally, and how do you use it in your daily life?

Carlos: Music is pretty much involved in almost every aspect of my life. There was a time several years ago when it helped me through some really hard times. It was one of the few consistencies in my life and the lyrics and emotion of the music really helped me out tremendously. I listen to music everyday, on my way to work, when I go to the gym and at night to relax and go to bed. Music also plays a huge part in my life because I am in this band and it's something I love to do. I don't know how to play an instrument but I think I have a good ear for how things should sound, as well as writing all the lyrics for this band as well as when I wrote lyrics for my old band Worn Thin.

PMAKid: When I interviewed Aram Arslanian, he had some really great things to say about education. What are your thoughts on education (not only for kids like me, but also going to college)?

Carlos: I think education is really important to me as well as my family. From the time I first started school my parents always stressed to us the importance of education. College was a struggle for me financially but I was able to graduate from George Mason university with a Bachelor of Arts. I can't stress how important it is to get an education, especially being Latino and growing up in a household where my parents first language was not English, it was a lot to overcome. My parents never had the opportunity to go to college because they had to work really hard to provide for us and as you know being an immigrant in this country is not an easy life. My parents suffered a lot for us to attend good schools. We could have used the money for other things that would have made our lives more comfortable but my parents didn't want us to go through the same pain and suffering they went through because they never went to college. So I hope if you have the opportunity to go to school, seize it and make the most of it!

PMAKid: I think you are straight edge. If so, what does being straight edge mean to you? Were you always straight edge (like Toby Morse) or did you become edge later in life like some of the other people I have interviewed? 

Carlos: I am straight edge, I have been straight edge since 1999. Straight Edge has always been about a personal choice as I have never preached about it or judged anyone who was not. To me it's something positive and works for me, but I don't look down on those who make different choices.

PMAKid: Last year, you were one of the really cool and generous people who donated records and stuff for my school's Hardcore for Education fundraiser. The fundraiser helped pay for my school band teacher last year. How important is it to have music in elementary schools like mine? 

Carlos: Music is really important in schools, I wish my grade school had more of a focus on music as I would have loved to pick up an instrument, but sadly it was not to be. The closest we got were these cheap plastic flutes where they taught you how to play "Mary had a little lamb" I don't think I ever even learned to play that...hahah. I went to catholic schools all my life so we mainly had choirs and a marching band in high school, so it wasn't a music based curriculum. In DC there's this awesome school called the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, who emphasizes the arts as much as it does academics.

PMAKid: I am really excited to see you guys play at the React! Records showcase on September 23 and September 24. How did it happen that you were going to play there?

Carlos: Well I have known Aram for a few years now, about 2 years ago we played Vancouver and he was kind enough to throw a BBQ for us at his house before the show, he is a kind and generous man. We are also big fans of his label REACT  so we were psyched when he called and asked us to play. We had been talking to Phil from Remission about doing a west coast tour with them, with one of the dates being the showcase. Unfortunately due to some scheduling conflicts we were only able to play the showcase, but that was a blast to be able to play at Gilman as well.

PMAKid: I know that you are a big fan of our friends, 7 Seconds. What kind of influence did they have on you?

Carlos: They have been a huge influence on me from their lyrical content, to starting a melodic hardcore band, right down to their positive attitude and message.

PMAKid: What is your favorite song to perform live and why?

Carlos: The song "Doubt Crusades" from "Fracturing." This song always gets me pumped up for the rest of the set, as it is regularly a song we open shows with. This was one of the last songs we wrote for the new record and the lyrics came about after a bad show we had played. I know you're not supposed to feed off the crowd but sometimes it's nice to feel that acknowledgment that the crowd is feeling what you are doing. And on this particular night we had some technical issues and some glaring mistakes that really got us down on ourselves. I really wanted to convey in the lyrics that it's ok to screw up and make mistakes, and sometimes we have bad days. It's easy to dig yourself into that hole where you feel sorry for yourself and are always pessimistic. I wanted the lyrics to show that we all go through tough times and we live through them and it helps us heal as well as grow as a person.

PMAKid: How do you stay positive? What are your thoughts on keeping PMA?

Carlos: I stay positive by not focusing on negative thoughts. It's hard sometimes because we are filled with self doubt, but I think our minds are strong enough to focus on the positive aspects of life and learn from our downfalls and mistakes. Not everyone can live a charmed life and our mettle will be tested throughout our lifetime. We have to choose to handle difficulties and obstacles in a  way that helps us to grow into a caring, compassionate, positive person. gotta keep that PMA!

Thanks again Julian to you and your Dad, you guys rule, keep up the great work with the blog and fundraiser!

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