Saturday, April 13, 2013

Curt Canales of Chain of Strength

Curt Canales from Chain of Strength
I am finally getting back to all my interviews.  I have a lot of really cool ones coming up. This interview is with Mr. Curt Canales (the vocalist for Chain of Strength). Thanks a lot for the interview, Mr. Canales! 

PMAKid: You played in one of Revelation Records' earlier bands, Chain of Strength. (My dad actually saw you guys play a show in Connecticut a long time ago!) You only did a couple 7" records, but your music is still really popular with straight edge kids and older people like my dad. Why do you think that you guys are still so popular?

Mr. Canales: I think we made a couple of records that were different than many of the bands at the time. We also had a certain cloud (urban myths) over us that possibly led to some of the curiosity that remains even today...I hope our shows in New York will reduce any questions about the band and its members.  All of us were a part of hardcore long before Chain and we will continue to be long after. 

PMAKid: The Chain song that most people remember the most and that they like the most is True Til Death. It is about being straight edge til death and my dad said that you were singing about how Ian MacKaye was just talking about being edge for his own sake. Is that right? When I talked with Mr. MacKaye, he told me how he thought it was cool if people came to be edge for themselves, but that he thought it was stupid how some folks turned straight edge into a negative movement for a while. What are your thoughts on this? 

Mr. Canales: True till Death was about being true to oneself.  We wrote it after being disappointed that a band that championed straight edge would turned its back on it.  We were also tired of how it became much more than the music.  Chain of Strength was a hardcore band that happened to have straight edge members.  Straight edge was personal to me, so when kids would question our intent or credibility, I became very bitter towards this "mainstream" movement and their hijacking of a lifestyle that was never intended to be a religion.

Chain of Strength at Destroy L.A. Fest
July 12 and July 13!!
PMAKid: I have interviewed a bunch of people who came to be straight edge because they wanted to change their life (like Aram Arslanian). People like my (kinda) Uncle Kevin Seconds are straight edge, but he does not call himself "straight edge". Other people like my friend Jeff Terranova (from Up Front) and Walter Schreifels from Gorilla Biscuits were straight edge when they were younger, but aren't anymore. Both of them told me that being edge was really important to them and that now they might have a beer every once in a while but being edge taught them moderation. Are the guys in Chain of Strength still straight edge? Can you guys tell me about your feelings on straight edge now that you are older like my dad?

Mr. Canales: I can only speak for myself.  Straight edge has become so convoluted.  I always enjoyed the Idea of going out with my friends, without the pressure to drink or smoke.  I also appreciated the idea that promiscuity wasn't something to be celebrated or pressured into.  I was surprised to see so much of it among these "edge" kids while on the road, but that was their choice, who was I to criticize?  None of us are perfect, I can certainly admit that.  There were "groupies" (all guys) at the time that would wait for us after shows to tell us how fake we were.  I'm not going to mention this OC band whose group of buffoon's they belonged to, but they were obnoxious!  I called them the Straight Edge Police "To serve and protect **********" It was hilarious making fun of those guys and their pathetic adulation of anything *******!  If I knew anyone was going to shows to mock other bands, and I was hanging out with these guys, I would have shut that down right away! 

Straight should always be a personal pledge.  What bothered me most was the "new school" militants that came along and dictated what it meant, and who could be a part of it.  I always looked at hardcore as fast, fierce and thunderous music.  The fact that they were straight edge was great, but it didn't define my opinion of them as much as the music did. 

PMAKid: My dad's friend Nico Welmer from the Netherlands wanted me to ask this: "Always wanted to know why Impact was never released before on the 7"s?"

Mr. Canales: I guess we just never got around to putting lyrics to it.  There were many songs that never made it on the seven inch, and we knew we needed an original, so that one seemed appropriate for the album. 

PMAKid: I always like to ask people about music and books. I think it is really interesting to find out what people like because it is sometimes surprising. Can you guys tell me about some of your favorite books and why you like them? 

Mr. Canales: I am currently reading "Dismantling America" by Thomas Sowell.  Mr. Sowell is possibly the greatest thinker alive today. 

PMAKid: For music, what were some of your favorite bands and why back when Chain of Strength was first playing? What about today?

Mr. Canales: Cro-Mags, Youth of Today, Dag Nasty, Verbal Assault and 7 seconds for pushing me to make the best songs I could.  I can only hope that kids enjoyed my music as much as I enjoyed these bands.

PMAKid: One of the really cool things about interviewing so many different people is that I end up talking to people with all different kinds of political views. People like Kevin Seconds and the folks in Out of Sight are really liberal and people like Mike Villines are conservative. It seems like most people in the hardcore scene are pretty liberal. My dad is a Republican (and gets teased by Kevin Seconds and Dan O'Mahony a lot for it), and he mentioned that Mr. Canales is also a Republican. Was he always a Republican? What is it that makes you identify with the Republican Party and not the Democratic party? What about the other guys in the band?

Mr. Canales: I suppose my politics evolved over many years.  I was a "liberal" until I realized how the real world worked.  I never understood how anyone growing up listening to Punk/Hardcore could possibly be sold on the party of ENDLESS government.  Big government worried me far more than big business.     I always enjoyed my personal freedoms, so when Al and Tipper Gore (Uber Liberals) went on their censorship war, I was suddenly realizing that liberals were far more dangerous than those evil Republicans that they've successfully vilified for so many years.  Liberals shout down their opponents.  Conservative speakers on college campuses must bring a security team with them for fear of harassment or pies being thrown at them.  Nothing analogous from conservative students has ever occurred!  I met a kid once that was a huge fan of Chain.  He told me how proud he was that I was Hispanic and that I was a huge influence on him.  Thirty minutes later he discovered that I was not voting for Obama….. He immediately shouted at me, calling me a horrible person (among other things) and never spoke to me again.  That moment (sadly) will forever remind me that Liberalism is a religion.  I don't talk politics with the other members, but they all are aware of my political views.  You'd be surprised by the number of like-minded hardcore kids that are out there.  I have received numerous "PM's" from kids that share my political views, but will never say it out loud…..I hope that changes.

PMAKid: My mom is not into hardcore music at all, but she really likes the message and the friendship and support that people have in the scene. I think that it is really one of the coolest things about the whole scene. It seems that no matter how young or old people are they still call them selves "hardcore kids". Sweet Pete from In My Eyes told me in an email to just call him Pete (instead of using "Mister") because we are all just hardcore kids. My dad is 44 years old and hardcore music is still a big part of his life and it is because of this feeling that we are all friends and support each other that he still feels this way. How do you guys feel about this?

Mr. Canales: I love hardcore.  I love everything it stands for and all the kids that are part of it.  I will always be a hardcore kid at heart.  I could never turn my back on something that helped shape my life, so you can include me in that group.

PMAKid: What do all you guys do now that you are older and have families and stuff?

Mr. Canales: I'm a business owner, father and husband.

PMAKid: My dad took me to the Rev25 shows in Pomona a few months ago (which were TOTALLY FUN). Our friend Mike Garcia was really hoping that Chain of Strength was going to be the surprise guest because he is a huge fan. He is not going to go to the east coast shows. My dad and I are not either which sucks! How does it feel to be playing the 25th anniversary show of Revelation Records?!!? (If you have any extra playlists at the end of the show and nobody is going to keep them, can you save one for my friend Mike? You don't have to, but I thought I would just ask.)

Mr. Canales: I'll see what I can do.  Tell Mike not to worry, we will be playing in Cali real soon.

PMAKid: Really cool people like Jordan Cooper at Revelation and Dan O'Mahony and Evan Wivell from Mndset and others helped out my elementary school by donating things to the schools' Hardcore for Education fundraiser which helped to make sure we were able to keep our school band. (We are also doing another fundraiser in the next few weeks!!!) How important do you think it is to make sure that elementary schools have access to music and art programs?

Mr. Canales: It's very important for all ages.  Both my boys are involved in musical theater at their schools and they both play instruments (guitar/drums).  I understand the budget issues, so the Republican in me can appreciate when savvy kids can understand that hard work really does pay off.  Let me know if I can ever help out your fundraiser.

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