In a time when music is going retro with garage rock and synth-pop that doesn’t really have much to say of social relevance, it’s welcome to find a band that sings about what the members believe in. True to the vintage punk rock aesthetic, the Long Island, New York-based Latterman (Phil Douglas, guitar/vocals; Matt Cannino, bass/vocals; Mike Campbell, guitar; and Pat Schramm, drums) mixes community-minded and politically charged lyrics with passionate music.
Riding high off its second full-length No Matter Where We Go..!, the band received an outpouring of fan support so impressive to its label, Deep Elm Records, that they re-released Latterman’s debut Turn Up The Punk…We’ll Be Singing just three months after No Matter Where We Go..! hit the stores.
In between tours, Drummer Pat Schramm took the time to help me dissect what this band is all about.
Innocent Words: The band name Latterman is unique, how’d that come about?
Pat Schramm: Well the band name came from an old friend of ours who used to really be into Matt and Phil’s old band when they were like 15. His last name was Latterman … he was one of those dudes that no matter what your band did he was super into it.
IW: There is a lot of raw rock and punk in your sound, who did you guys draw your influences from?
Schramm: Well bands like Hot Water Music, Fugazi, Rancid and NOFX (as silly as they may be) were all bands we listened to when we were growing up. So I guess a lot of influence comes from that kind of stuff.
IW: Speaking of Hot Water Music, in one of your reviews a writer from Smoother.com said, “Picking up the pieces left behind when Hot Water Music decided to suck.” How did that make you feel?
Schramm: I mean whenever you are thrown into a comment like that, it’s kind of weird. But I guess it was done in a complimentary way. We have all been into HWM for a very long time, especially their early stuff, so I guess I’m down with that.
IW: Your lyrics are positive in the form of building communities, friendships and relationships with others. It is not the typical “why me, my girlfriend hurt me blah blah lyrics.” Was this something you consciously set out to do?
Schramm: Yeah dude, people who write about their girlfriends dumping them and just use their band as a podium to call people “bitches” are lame. Punk should be a welcoming thing to all people. There’s a lot of negativity in the world as it is, and I know I don’t want to create more of that in something that’s as important to me as punk is. I’m sure some people would disagree with that, but then again those people are probably butt holes.
IW: Would you consider Latterman a political band?
Schramm: I guess to some extent, we all have definite beliefs we stick by. But I wouldn’t label us as some “pc warriors” or anything like that.
IW: You dedicated your release to “positivism, friendship, community and anyone who recognizes and struggles against patriarchy, homophobia, racism, white privilege, alienating wage labor and the world’s other flaws.” How did this thought process come about?
Schramm: Well like I said before, there is a lot of negativity in the world, and people who realize that and see that there are things we need to work on, inside and outside of punk, are basically the people who this release is dedicated to. We all need to realize this stuff and do what we can to fix it.
Schramm: Long Island is a great place. But sometimes due to cost and geography (everything is far apart from everything else) it makes it kind of hard to live and maintain any kind of community. There are songs on the new record that touch on that kind of stuff. Maintaining relationships with the people you care about are very important things, so it’s rough when you live somewhere that makes that pretty hard to do.
IW: What are the plans for the future for Latterman?
Schramm: When we get home from touring, we start writing for the new record, the vinyl is getting pressed and we are going to Europe in the spring. So yeah we have a lot of stuff ahead of us!