Saturday, February 4, 2012

Vancouver Straight Edge band Out of Sight

Chad, Alex and Stephanie of Out of Site plus me too

Out of Sight is a really cool band from Vancouver.  I hung out with them a lot on the first night of the last React Records Showcase.  They are all really nice and cool!

PMAKid: When I first met you guys, it was at the 2011 React Record showcase when I was selling my wristbands (Thanks again Aram!) next to you guys. You were totally cool! I know that you guys are a pretty new band. What made you start a band in the first place?

Chad: We all thought YOU were totally cool as well! Very inspiring to see someone so passionate about hardcore at your age! Well myself, I've always wanted to start punk/hardcore bands ever since I first got into punk when I was thirteen/fourteen. Playing in punk and hardcore bands is awesome because you have a wonderful place to express all of your frustration/anger/disgust with issues/problems in the world/your personal life. That's why I always wanted to start a punk band, because as a socially awkward, angry freak who never really fit in with "conventional" society.. I was constantly searching for somewhere to rage about injustice, personal issues, and things that made me mad! So for me, Out of Sight was basically started as a positive, productive way to let out some anger and sing about issues that bother me in the world/our scene/my life.

Out of Sight basically started when James and I lived together in a house with a bunch of our friends a few years back. We discussed starting a Straight Edge, political/socially conscious hardcore band with all Vegan (or at least Vegetarian... it's hard enough to start simply a Straight Edge band in this city right now, so how we managed to get an all Vegan/Straight Edge band is beyond me! Hahaha) members. We then realized it was gonna be a real struggle to find a drummer who was around the same age range as in this city... until someone told me about Alex. I actually saw Alex at a show with a "Vegan Straight Edge" pin on his jacket and hassled a bunch of friends to find out who he was as I'd seen him around before hahaha. James and I then awkwardly cornered him at a show and asked him to jam with us sometime.. long story short, we jammed with Alex at an hourly rental space.. and we just practiced "Ready To Fight" by Negative Approach like ten times in a row to see if I was even capable of doing vocals! Haha. We all agreed that I didn't suck too bad, so we started practicing sans bassist for a month or two, and wrote most of the demo then! Steph was awesome enough to join shortly after on bass, and the rest is (pretty uninteresting) history! It's been so much fun being in a band with these dudes the past year and a bit that we've existed, and it's really made me become super close friends with Alex/Steph/James. I love it!

Out of Sight.  Stephanie is on top of the van because
she is scared of my light saber.
James: Chad summarized it pretty well...  I basically wanted to start a band that had a hard, ignorant sound but with a social/political slant.  I also figured it was about time I started giving back to something that has meant so much to me over the years by ripping off my favourite bands of many different styles of hardcore.

PMAKid: I know that Stephanie (your bass player) is really into Star Wars and if we see you guys at the next React Records Showcase, she and I are going to have an epic lightsaber battle (which I WILL WIN!). Are all you guys into Star Wars? If so, which is your favorite Jedi and which is your favorite Sith?

Stephanie: I accept your challenge for this glorious battle and I anticipate MY VICTORY! Star Wars became my life when I was in elementary school/high school. (I'm not ashamed to admit that I used to have imaginary lightsaber battles with my mom's broom by myself.) I have no one favorite Jedi, but it is a tie between Shaak Ti and Quinlan Vos. Both are seriously underrated and fascinating characters, and two of the few to survive the Great Jedi Purge. My favourite Sith HANDS DOWN is Darth Plagueis.  He is one of the few non-human characters who had an incredible impact within the galaxy; training Darth Sidious, unintentionally created the prophesied "Chosen One", AND had the ability to create life. I could go on for hours, and the next time I see you, I will.

Chad: I love Star Wars (the original three, not a big fan of Episodes 1-3)! It's something I grew up watching, so I'll always love it! Favourite Jedi: I'd have to go with Obi-Wan. Favourite Sith: I always thought Darth Sidious was a pretty freaky dude! Hahaha. Sorry, my answers aren't very exciting.. I'm sure Steph and James will go to town on this one.

James: I am definitely into Star Wars, and I'll have to agree that Obi-Wan is the number one Jedi.  Although I'm not down with the prequel trilogy, Darth Tyranus is probably my favourite Sith. He's an interesting character and Christopher Lee is a great actor.

Alex: Out Of Sight is totally a band of Star Wars fans, and I'm no exception. My favorite Jedi has to be Obi-Wan and my favorite Sith is Darth Vader. I remember being a kid and watching Star Wars for the first time at a friend's house and being legitimately scared that Darth Vader would show up and throw me into a wall or choke me with the force.

PMAKid: You guys are all straight edge like me. What made you guys want to be straight edge and why?

Chad: Well, I got into punk through a lot of the UK punk bands from the 77 to early 80s era (and a lot of modern bands influenced by that). A common trend with a lot of those bands was the whole like "NO FUTURE" type attitude, you know? Live fast, die young, blah blah blah. I never really got that whole thing, it just didn't make sense to me. Love the music and most of the politics, I just can't relate to that side of the "punk" attitude. Sadly a lot of those types of kids who obsess over that stuff only "rebel" against society by getting drunk and spiking their hair. Oh wow, you're really gonna change things living like that! I drank a couple times when I was in high school, but it wasn't very fun. Drugs never appealed to me, and neither did smoking. Just not my thing.

James and Alex
I think a combination of really connecting with what Minor Threat were singing about (and realizing that I had always wanted to live a clean, sober life.. even when I was pretending to be "into" drinking), realizing that some of my relatives in the past have had some rather addictive personalities, something that I never want to repeat... and getting really into radical politics was what finally made me claim Straight Edge around late sixteen. "An effective revolutionary through the clarity of mind that I've attained." I basically just look at the fact that as a punk, as a hardcore kid, and as a radical thinking, progressive individual who belongs to a lifestyle/movement/scene supposedly devoted to changing the world we live in... the last thing that I personally want to do is waste my limited amount of time and energy distracted and controlled by drugs and alcohol. HOWEVER: I'm not trying to say that anyone that isn't Straight Edge is "bad" or " living wrong" or anything ridiculous like that. It's not a lifestyle for everyone, but it was the perfect choice for me!

One more thing to the more "conservative" edgefolk out there: I (/Out of Sight) SUPPORT SAFE INJECTION SITES, NEEDLE EXCHANGES, AND DRUG REHABILITATION FACILITIES. Pushing people out on the streets and/or criminalizing them for having addictions does nothing but harm more than help. These facilities are in place to ensure HARM-REDUCTION and SAFETY for addicts, and in my eyes should be valued a lot more in North America then they currently are. When organized properly (like InSite, a safe injection facility in Vancouver), they can be highly effective and connect the suffering to treatment, help, and counselling.

James: I first stumbled upon the Straight Edge on the internet when I was getting into punk, and around the same time I met an older hardcore kid at my high school who invited me to a lot of punk/hardcore shows.  The more I got into the music and the culture, the more I realized that I had finally found something that made sense for me to be a part of (that might sound cliched, but whatever.)  I was drawn to punk for its urgency, anger, and progressive ideas, but I never saw the appeal of drug culture, so it was really encouraging to find out that intoxication wasn't a requirement for rebellion and that sobriety wasn't only for the religious right.  Basically, I learned to reject the conventional social outlets and forms of recreation that revolve around substances.  Considering the potentially devastating effects of drug and alcohol use, I think our society encourages it to an insane degree.  None of this, however, means that I'm into making petty judgments on other people, especially not on those who struggle with substance abuse.  I'm not an expert on the subject, but I think of addiction as a social disease that arises from a lot of different problems, like poverty and cultural alienation, and, as Chad already said, punishing the victims only makes matters worse.  Anyone who thinks that their edge gives them license for smugness and empty moralizing is really shortsighted, and I pretty much assume that they'll break.

Steph: I first encountered the edge when I was the 8th grade. My brother Mike (of Tightrope/Progression) made me listen to bands a lot of punk bands when I was younger, and I was slowing transitioning to Hardcore, Minor Threat in particular. Funny thing is, my brother basically forced me to 'rock the edge' but I drifted away after a few years because I never really understood the significance of being straight edge. I was under the impression that I was missing out on something incredible because getting wasted and high seemed like the only way to have a good time. I could never get into drinking or drugs. I hated the burning feeling in the pit of my stomach from any kind of liquor, I hated not being able to breathe properly after smoking anything and I didn't like feeling dumb. Nothing about any of that made sense to me and to this day, it still doesn't. Why would I waste my money and time on something that almost always ends up in feeling awful and leaving me a couple hundred dollars poorer. I grew up in poverty for the majority of my life, so it never made sense to spend that much money on something so useless.

Chad needs to shave
I'm with Chad on his stance for safe injection sites. Nobody as a child thinks to themselves "well gee, I can't wait to become addicted to highly dangerous substances and have my life revolve around this vice" It doesn't matter what substance they're addicted to, they're still human beings. And every human being deserves safety and security. To tell addicts that all they need to do is just 'stop and get a job' is garbage. Nobody WANTS to be addicted, and this is a mentality that people need to get out of their head.

Alex: I got interested in being Straight Edge when was in the middle of high school. I was getting more and more into punk and was dumbfounded when I learned about people within the punk world who lived completely sober. After a short period of experimentation I decided Straight Edge was the way for me and I made the decision. I was 17 at the time and I've never looked back.

Also, I'm completely with the rest of OOS when it comes to safe injection sites [i.e. InSite in Vancouver] and fully support harm-reduction for those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. In Vancouver it's impossible to avoid seeing the destructive effects of substance abuse, and it's not acceptable for people who suffer from such addictions [in Vancouver's Downtown East Side or anywhere] to be simply swept under the rug.

PMAKid: Favorite books! What are they and why?

Chad: George Orwell will forever be one of my favourite writers ever, and Nineteen Eighty Four is up there as one of my all time favourite books. Why? I just think it's the perfect critique of what a government can become when the people have no control. A glimpse into the future? I guess that's not a very eloquent way of describing it, hahaha... it was just one of those books that upon my first read I was just FLOORED, and had to read it again and again. Orwell has written so much amazing stuff. I also really love A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which I have been meaning to revisit. Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit are near the top for me, as they were some of the first "big" (as in long) books I read as a kid. That story will forever be one of my favourites as far as fiction goes. Been meaning to reread those too, it's been a long time!

James: Speaking of Orwell, one of my all-time favourites is Homage to Catalonia, an autobiographical account of Orwell's experiences during the Spanish Civil War, which is a really interesting time.  Orwell pays a lot of attention to how the Stalinists betrayed and undermined other factions involved with the Republican cause, which was supposedly united against Franco's fascism.  Orwell fought on the Republican side, and he narrowly escaped Stalin's "purges."  He also narrowly survived getting shot through the neck, which is pretty wild.  Anyways, I love the book because it's both informative and easy to connect to on a personal level.

Since Chad and I mentioned addiction earlier, The Globalisation of Addiction by Bruce K. Alexander is a really useful book on the subject.  Alexander explains that addiction is a common coping mechanism for the alienating effects of free market capitalism, and he draws from a wide range of sources to get his point across, including his own interviews with addicts in Vancouver.  For promoting harm reduction and humane attitudes towards people with substance abuse problems, I think it's a really important book.

Out of Sight at the React Records Showcase
I guess I'm rambling, so I'll try to keep the rest of this response short.  Another one of my top books is Ernest Becker's Denial of Death, which is an examination of how human beings cope with the universal fear of death.  For fiction, some of my favourites (in terms of imagination, social commentary, and quality writing) are Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie and Kurt Vonnegut's Cats Cradle.  Although I'm not super into fantasy books, I've read The Lord of the Rings multiple times and it'll always have sentimental value for me, and I'm currently on book 3 of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, which is blowing my mind.

Alex: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, an exploration into the meanings and significances of food, how it gets from farm/ocean/slaughterhouse to table, and animal rights vs. animal welfare.

I also really love anything by Roald Dahl, especially collections of his short stories [i.e. Skin and other Stories and The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More] and his autobiography of his childhood, Boy.

PMAKid: Even though my dad and I like hardcore music, we listen to a lot of music in my house (my mom hates hardcore). What other kind of music do you guys listen to? 

Chad: I like tons of other stuff! Obviously (as mentioned earlier) tons of different styles of punk.. lots of Death/Doom/Black Metal, lots of 80s post punk/new wave stuff, lots of hip hop, and a whole bunch of other music as well. I'll forever be a hardcore/punk kid first and foremost though.

James: Despite being obsessed with hardcore, I think I listen to a good variety of music.  Some of my favourite bands/musicians are Hot Water Music, Stiff Little Fingers, New Order, Replacements, Death in June, Neko Case.

Steph: As much as I love hardcore, I need a break every here and again. I love instrumental music, mainly Hanz Zimmer sound tracks and Yo-Yo Ma. I'm also have a disgusting obsession with Buddy Holly and Bill Haley and the Comets.

Alex: In addition to hardcore and punk, I listen to everything from classic rock to harsh noise to delta blues. Lately I've been listening to lots of the National and Black Sabbath. I also have a serious Bruce Springsteen addiction.

PMAKid: What do you guys do besides being in Out of Sight? Go to school or what?

Chad: I'm (currently) the only person who isn't a student in the band. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to go back to post secondary for in the coming years. I currently just work, nerd out on punk/hardcore/metal, collect records, and go to shows. I'm hoping to get a little more "involved" politically in Vancouver's radical community, as life has made me feel kind of apathetic as of late and I'd like to change that. Also, I (along with a collection of friends) try to book hardcore/punk shows in this city when we can, so bands who want to play Vancouver, drop me a line. Out of Sight needs to play more shows!

James: I'm close to completing my English degree at Simon Fraser University, and I work on campus.  I also play bass in Wild Cravings, a modern Scandinavian-style d-beat band (Martyrdod and Skitsystem vibes.)

Steph: I study Fine Arts at Langara College, my main focus being digital design. If it feels right, I'm hoping to continue studying to become an Art Therapist or a Naturopathic doctor. I also work/stuff my face at a small family owned pasta shop on the weekends.

Alex: I am studying geography [and a little geology along the way] and work a myriad of odd jobs to get by. You can also find me playing drums in Mouse ear [7" out now on Clue #2 Records].

PMAKid: How do you guys stay positive when bad stuff happens. The first guy I interviewed (Toby Morse) is known for being a really positive guy, but you can't be positive all the time, so how do you deal with things that are really tough?

Chad: Honestly, I'm not always the most positive person. I mean, I'm a relatively happy guy, and I'm lucky to have a pretty great life surrounded by awesome people.. but I think that in order to be truly "positive", I would have to have a "positive" worldview as well, which I definitely don't. I guess when it all comes down to it, I just try to occupy my time and surround myself by things and people that make me happy, and live my life with compassion. I've dealt with some bad times in the past (although, as a suburban, Caucasian male from Canada, my "bad times" don't compare to 90% of the under privileged across the globe's bad times), but I've made it through them fine. I think playing in a hardcore band, and going to the gym definitely helps me deal with my tough days in a positive way. Don't punch a hole in the wall when you're mad, just start a punk band!

James: While I'm really not the ideal person to give advice on staying positive, I think the most effective way to deal with your personal problems is by talking them out with other people.  When you're going through tough times, it can be hard to remember that others might be experiencing similar things until you actually try communicating with someone instead of bottling it up.  Being involved in hardcore also helps me deal with my problems in a constructive way.  I've met some of the best people I know through going to shows, and it's helped me find authenticity that I've never been able to find elsewhere.

Alex: I find the best way to stay positive is by immersing yourself in the things you love the most. For me this is playing or listening to music. I try not to avoid the negative feeling I get, but use music as a way to acknowledge and respond to them in a productive way.

PMAKid: Are you guys working on any new music? Vinyl?

Chad: We have a 7" coming out on a label that myself and our good friend Carl (who plays in such awesome Vancouver bands as Damages, Keep It Clear, Mouse Ear, and Circles) started called Dead Instincts Records. It should be out soon, probably by March at the latest. We were actually hoping to have it done by fall 2011, but getting the recordings done took a bit longer than expected. Hopefully people enjoy it, I think the songs are pretty awesome! Hahahaha. For info on ordering (assuming someone out there wants one), check our blogspot page.

PMAKid: How is Alex so GOOD at making funny faces? When I did a presentation to my school about straight edge and living a drug free life, I showed that picture of you guys and me and all the kids loved Alex's funny face! 

Chad: Little known fact, Alex is actually a clown for children's birthday parties on the side... so he gets a lot of practice making funny faces! Just kidding. Or am I?

Alex: Please direct all party requests to my agent at 604-555-1138

1 comment:

(Noting that this site is primarily run by a kid, his parents ask you to keep profanity and offensive commentary out of your posts.)