This interview was originally published in Reaction fanzine (special “Farewell to Bane” issue) in 2015. Pics by Bence Sabjan, Reid Haithcock, Marco Christian Krenn, Janos Kummer, future-breed, Kyle Camarillo, Tyler Ross
Bane at Trafo Klub, Hungary (2000)
Could you tell us a bit about your family? How was your childhood?
I grew up in a one parent household. Just my younger brother and my mother. We were poor. My mother was struggling to get through school and provide for her kids. It was a pretty rough city. I found trouble early on. Got sent to Virginia to live with my father, where I was able to do some much needed growing up. Moved back to Massachusetts to be with my mom. Found punk rock and skateboarding the summer before I started high school. Less than a month later I had dropped out of high school
How and when did you find the hardcore scene?
There was a kid who lived in the neighborhood. He had a skateboard. His older brother had Sex Pistols and Generation X records. I became pretty quickly obsessed with those and just never stopped digging until I had found other people that liked the music as much as I did.
You were around for 10 years before you started Bane. What kept you here for so many years? I bet you saw many kids come and go before 95. Who did you hang out with in this period?
I had a crew of friends that had grown up going to HC shows but now were in their 20’s and growing up a bit. We made indie rock bands and played a lot of basketball and cards and I just never let HC slip too far out of my vision. I was never able to find anything else that could replace it or make me feel as alive as it had.
I’ve read the story on grantland.com about the Yankees Suck! t-shirts and the hardcore kids, who were selling them. I’m sure you know those guys, what can you add to the story for better understanding?
I think that article did a pretty good job of explaining the rise and fall of the operation. I wasn’t there for a lot of that. I was just proud of my homies for hustling and making money as true outlaws like that.
Early Bane trip down the East coast 1997
How did you start the band? How did the first lineup get together? Do you still remember the day?
Yeah I remember the day very clearly Dalbec called to ask if I wanted to sing in his new band. I didn’t know who he was, didn’t know his band Converge, didn’t really know what the band would sound like but I was excited at the idea of singing in a HC band again. That was 20 years ago this month. We got together. He played me the first batch of songs, just him and the drummer Damon. I recorded them on a boombox and started writing lyrics the next day.
Where’s the name from? Is it from the Batman comics? Who came up with the idea?
Dalbec came up with it. The demo was recorded and we were desperate for a name. We hadn’t been able to come up with anything that we both agreed on. Then he just started going through the dictionary. We were both comic book guys and knew about the character Bane, but it was really the definition in the dictionary that grabbed him and I sort of liked that it would look cool on a shirt.
There’s a family photo of kids wearing costumes on the back cover of the first 7”. Who are they?
That’s our original bass player Pete and his siblings.
Don’t you think you should play Every Effort Made a lot more?
Nah. I think we retired that one. Maybe we’ll pull it out for the final tour or the final show but it’s been years since we played it.
There’s XXX on the front cover and X-es on the labels too. I guess all members of the first lineup were straight edge. Is it accidental or you wanted to start as an edge band? Ever again had a full edge lineup?
Yes, originally we started as a sXe band. Then our drummer at the time decided he didn’t want to be sXe anymore and we were faced with the decision of throwing our drummer and friend and tour mate and guy who was an absolute blast to be around, out of the band to maintain that original mission statement or to stick with him and just drop the label and have sXe be more about our own personal beliefs and not have it be about some label that we are waving in kids’ faces or make non-edge kids feel like maybe what we were doing wasn’t for them. So we stuck with our homie and he toured with us for years and it’s a decision I’m very glad we made. Straight edge is cool for sure, but friendship is way cooler.
People just come and go and there is always someone, who starts to talk shit about the scene after he left. Was there a specific person or event that inspired you to write Count Me Out?
It was more about a prevailing attitude that I kept noticing when we were first coming up. Dudes who had been around awhile who had grown bitter and lazy and clearly had forgotten what it was like to be young and first discovering this world, like they suddenly held the key to what was worthwhile and what was not simply by way of having been around awhile. I just wanted to address that.
Ever thought about how much merch you sold over the years and what terrible things some people might do while wearing Bane shirts?
I truly hope some absolutely terrible, sinful, unforgivable, horrific things have been done in Bane gear. I also hope some cool „helping an old lady across the street” type shit has been done as well. I sleep pretty well at night imagining that it all evens out.
It’s clear to see, that you have a special connection with This Is Hardcore. What made this festival so special for you? Do you work hard to prepare and make these appearances special, or the pizza party and such things were all spontaneous?
Well the pizza party was Joe’s idea. He just wanted to do something special. Our sets at that fest tend to be pretty special and I think he just wanted to kick it up a notch. But for the most part I feel like that fest just has so many kids from all over who genuinely love HC. And many-many of them are from our corner of the US. New England, NY, NJ, Pa. So we get pretty lucky to find them on a day when they real hyped and that in turn gets us real hyped and it all feeds off each other as all the best shows tend to do.
After this year’s TIHC some members of Heavy Chains and Suburban Scum gave a severe beating to a kid. Both bands been removed from Life And Death tour co-headlined by Bane. How would you personally comment on this issue?
I hope that there would be a real lesson taken from that whole tragedy. I wasn’t as interested in taking sides, or beating my chest, or following along with the safest, loudest voice. I just wanted kids to take a second and think about what mindless violence can really lead to. I hated that it took something so terrible for kids to finally get fed up with that sort of mindless, meathead violence. But it did band a ton of voices together that seemed to be begging for this shit to stop. That kids weren’t just going to lay down and take it, or abandon the scene and let the dumbfucks win. They seemed to want something to change and I thought that was an important voice to listen to. I just wanted that voice to stay levelheaded and, to realize that life is fucking fragile and we’re all human beings and this act carried with it a feeling that things had gone too far and people were finally fed up was a really important thing, to listen to that voice and try to rationalize intelligently what the next best steps would be, for themselves, for their friends, for their local scenes and for HC as a whole. To try really hard to take this awful thing and turn it around somehow that we can take some lesson from it and come away better. I just hate that it took something so terrible to spark the conversations it sparked.
Top 5 bands, you loved to tour with the most in the last 5 years.
Code Orange , Backtrack, Down To Nothing, Turnstile, Rotting Out.
What were the worst jobs you had between tours?
I worked in a law firm making photo copies of legal documents. I wrote almost all of the lyrics for The Note while doing that mindless bullshit.
Some nice Bane skate decks were made. How does the 15 years old kid inside of you feel about it? Did you hang one on your wall already?
I mean I don’t really hold onto much Bane stuff. Someone has my decks and when I get them I’ll prolly give them to friends who will be more psyched about them than I will. I don’t really get attached to stuff like that.
Dublin, Rome, Los Angeles, Boston, Tokyo, Perth and Curitiba. What do these cities mean to you? Please share some memories.
I’m not really good at tour stories, the stuff that is funny or interesting to me never seems to really do much for anyone else. Zach is the great storyteller in Bane. I always wish he could answer these type questions cuz I’ve heard that dude tell the same stories 20 times and they always great and hysterical and he really seems to understand what people need to hear to make a story memorable.
Those cities are places that had dudes there who had really done right by us, friends, labels, promoters, just kids we wanted to pay tribute to in some way for giving a fuck about Bane the way they had.
How’s your knee?
Knee’s a little rough. Every year it gets a little bit tougher. I hurt my ribs in Japan and have needed to let them heal and sadly that meant I haven’t been able to run like I was hoping to, to prepare for this lengthy Europe tour coming up.
I saw that you like Watain. Do you listen to a lot of black metal?
I do. I went through a really big phase a couple of years ago where it was ALL I ever wanted to listen to and I did a ton of research about the genre and hunted down all sorts of obscure bands from all over the globe. But after awhile I settled on a handful of bands that really did it well and that’s mostly who I listen to for BM nowadays (Havohej, Tsjuder, Ildjarn, Xasthur).
How would you rank these Boston bands? American Nightmare, Eye For An Eye, In My Eyes, Reach The Sky, Ten Yard Fight, The Hope Con.
Eye For An Eye – In My Eyes – The Hope Con. – Reach The Sky – Ten Yard Fight – American Nightmare.
At this year’s Groezrock you photobombed a picture of Stigma and Keith Morris. Which one is cooler, Agnostic Front or Circle Jerks? And who’s the nicer person, Stigma or Keith?
I’ve never met Keith and he was least favorite of the Black Flag singers. We’ve toured with Agnostic Front and Victim in Pain was literally life-changing for me so if you’re going to force me to a decision on two guys who I’m sure are both great…
Many would say Bane is a classic band. Are you totally aware of that? How you handle it?
People say lots of things about Bane. Some of it is really nice and flattering and some of it is the exact opposite and I try not to take any of it too seriously or let other people’s opinions affect my relationship with the band. I’ve always sort of felt like if I allow one side to affect me than at the same time I should let the other side. All that „Bane is a _____ band” will be there when it’s dead and done and I’m old looking back on it all. For now Bane is just a HC band who is stoked to still be playing shows and hanging out with friends.
I’m sure, it happened many times, that someone told you what impact Bane had on her/his life. You must have many memories of this kind by now. Would you pick and share one or two with us?
Yeah, we’ve been unbelievably fortunate to have kids who feel connected with us in that sort of way where they come up and talk about things we’ve helped them through or struggles we inspired them to take on. Some people have claimed we’ve been there for them when they have been at their absolute lowest points in life. Some kids have told us that we were their very first HC band they saw live, that always means a real lot to me. Some kids have said we made them want to start a band, that’s a sick thing to be told. Obviously on Don’t Wait Up I talk about some very personal abuse I went through as a child and that has sparked some very intense conversations with kids who have survived similar horrors. But if I have to pick one it’d be early on. When my home address was on our early 7”s and I’d get mail from kids and some of them would talk about how Superhero helped inspire them to finally quit smoking cigarettes, that somehow those lyrics were the motivator to look at that addiction in a different way and to finally get passed that addiction. Kids who I had never met, that I couldn’t even put a face to writing to me to share in that with me. That was real overwhelming for me. If that was the only thing that ever came of being in Bane I would have been cool with that.
What Bane song you’d want to be the first to hear for someone, who never heard about you before?
Ali v Frazier maybe?
What’s your favorite Bane LP?
Don’t Wait Up.
You had more Hungarian tour drivers over the years. Do you have fun stories about them? Do you have a message or a farewell note for them?
They are usually pretty quiet guys. Definitely thanks for looking out for us through all the tours they have. Some of them have turned out to be real family to us. They know who they are
How many times have you felt on tour that you’re going to die there?
I’ve felt it a little bit. Like a little taste or a hint but I’ve always wanted to really, REALLY feel it. Like, gun in my face, this could be my last moment on earth and loom where I am type shit. That’s never happened and I’ve always been a little disappointed by that.
Is there a Bane bucket list?
Be cool to play with Burn now that they are back around. Most of the stuff we really wanted to do we’ve gotten to or are doing this year.
And do you have a personal bucket list to do after Bane?
Write the great American novel.
Fall in love in a way where it doesn’t completely destroy me.
I think I’m going to need to choose one or the other though.
Whenever I see you, you have high top sneakers on. Even in summer time. And always some cool Jordans or something like that. Do you consider yourself a big sneaker fan? Why always high tops?
Well you probably always see me on tour and I have weak ankles so I pretty much only rock high-tops on the road. At home you can catch me wearing AF1 lows. I’m not a huge sneaker guy. I just came up loving basketball, loving Hip-hop and youth crew and Jordans were a part of that whole aesthetic. It defined you in some way, spoke to where you came from a little bit and while that’s long dead now and any dork from anywhere can have hot sneakers now. I’ve just never been able to stop wearing them cuz it reminds me of where I come from, shooting hoops or staring at Youth Of Today photos.
I’ve seen that you have this habit of throwing your old sneakers up on wires to hang. Do you do this every time with your old kicks? Is there a special place, where people can see more of your shoes hanging from the wires? Where’s the idea from?
Yeah after most tours whatever pair I wore for that run are generally pretty fucking destroyed so as long as I have a different pair to wear home I tend to just tie them off and find a wire before leaving the club. It’s just a silly little tradition that I like. There’s no „spot” though, it’s just wherever I am when the tour ends. I don’t think they stay up for very long.
You’ve been touring the final record for a year now. Did anything come to your mind that you’d like to write a song about and regret it won’t happen?
I definitely have been having recurring dreams that we decide to write another 7”. I don’t know what that’s all about. We’re feeling pretty ready for the end. Are happy with the last record and the things we’ve done since it’s come out. I think the timing is right and while I’m going to miss it very, very much I don’t get a sense that there’s too much regret with deciding to walk away when we are. It’s really time.
You did many interviews lately and talked about how it felt to work on the final record. How does it feel to prepare for the final European tour?
Feels crazy, to be honest. To think that there is a good chance that I will NEVER be able to go to a lot of those places again my whole life. Some places we have been traveling to over and over again for years. Many, many friends over there I’m not sure I’ll see again and if I do it will be different. It will never feel the same as going there for a tour and seeing friends who care about the band and are excited to be around what we’re doing. I won’t be able to do interviews like this anymore. It feels more like a loss than anything else we’ve gone through thus far. Saying goodbye to Europe. We love it there. It’s going to be a very difficult tour emotionally for sure.
Aren’t you afraid that the recent migration crisis and closed borders will give you a hard time on your final tour?
I’m not. I am afraid that we may not be able to go to our favorite sushi restaurant in Frankfurt, though.
I’ve never been on tour, but I think there’s no way that anyone who plays at a different city every night and returns after a year will remember a guy he had a chat with for 15 minutes. Would you dare those who don’t have much self-confidence?
I’d say do it for sure. You’ll surprise yourself, you’ll learn more than you ever thought you could. You’ll have experiences that will change you and that you’ll never forget. You’ll realize that being shy is just a state of mind and that it’s no reason not to see and feel and taste and touch as much as you can in this world. You don’t even have to make a band. Just get in a car with some friends and just fucking go.
Have you ever considered doing spoken word tours in the future? Maybe touring as a DJ?
I’d love to find a way to keep traveling, and seeing the world I love getting flown around and staying in hotels and not staying in one place slowly rotting. I’m not sure DJ-ing will be the way, that’s a pretty tough and territorial scene that seems to be more about who you know as opposed to how much your heart is in it. But maybe I’ll find some way to keep moving.
Who do you get home to?
Couple of roommates, pile of board games, a casino, the abyss.
I haven’t asked you about poker. Are we missing out on something?
Nah, you’re not missing out on anything.
Chances of a reunion? In case of Armageddon?
Who can really say, right? Never is a very, long time. I’m going to try to avoid using that word when we’re saying goodbye through this final year.
Holding This Moment – Bane X Budapest documentary
The documentary covers the band’s conncetion to Budapest and their break-up along with their 20th anniversary as a band! The documentary features interviews and footage of BANE along with the people they inspired as a band.
“My story is a typical tale of a hardcore kid. At 16, being angry with most of the things in life, I went to see GALLOWS on a ship here in Budapest. I don’t remember much of that night, but I do remember the feeling I had when this band which I’ve never heard of came on stage, the vocalist with the funny bears on his shirt started screaming “can we start again?”, and the people went crazy. From the inside of the ship I didn’t feel it moving, but I’m pretty sure that they almost made it sink.
After listening to hardcore for 3-4 years, I realised that most of the bands can be catagorized in some ways (which is not necessarily a bad thing), but BANE can’t be. The scale of emotions and topics they reach is something that should be taught when creating art. The amount of times they helped me (and many others) with their music is something I’ll always be thankful for.
Being a film student, when they shared that they would play their final European show here in Budapest, I knew I had to make some sort of a film about it. Here it is. I guess this is my way of saying thank you.” Documentary by Gergő Ofner.