Richmond’s new favorite sons, The Riot Before, have had a phenomenally hectic past couple of years starting with the release of 2008’s Fists Buried in Pocket, being dragged across the globe to play before hundreds of thousands, with just enough time to put out a brilliant acoustic EP and finally the release of Rebellion, their latest full length and one of the best punk records of 2010. So, they’d be forgiven for wanting to take a little time off this year.
Their original label will put out a collection of the band’s earliest songs, and the group plans on hitting the road for a very brief tour this spring. Yet, the rest of the year for The Riot Before will be spent writing a new record, reconnecting with friends and actually making a little money (feeling guilty yet for browsing that merch table, but not buying anything? You should).
Front man and guitarist Brett Adams spoke recently about what’s changed for the band over the last few years, writing on the road and his plans to bulk up before the next big tour.
Innocent Words: Say 10 Records is putting out a double record CD of your early stuff. Do you have any details on that release?
Brett Adams: I talked to Adam (Gecking, Say-10 Records co-founder) the other day about it, and it’s looking like the CDs will be ready in a few months with the vinyl version a few months behind. I don’t have precise dates on it though. Hopefully soon.
IW: Were you guys involved in putting that record together?
Adams: We were as involved as we could be. I mean, when someone is releasing stuff that you’ve already written and recorded, there’s really not much work to do. Our involvement was limited to the “yeah that sounds like a good idea” and “let’s go with that for the cover” aspects of it.
Adams: It definitely has. We, like any band, are a product of our experiences and influences, and both have changed drastically in the six years since the first record was released. I like different music than I used to, and so it makes sense that I would write different music as well. Also, we are very much a live band and a lot of our songs are written with the show in mind. It has happened before that in the middle of our set I realized we could use another mid-tempo song that slows the energy down a bit without losing it completely, and so then later I wrote a song with that in mind. But as much as we’ve change, I don’t think we’re unrecognizable now. The sound has evolved for sure, but it hasn’t evolved into like a new species.
IW: It seems like you guys have been on the road non-stop since Rebellion came out. Have you had a chance to take any time off yet?
Adams: We are currently doing just that. Right now, 2011 is looking like a relatively sedentary year for us. We have some short tours in mind but nothing enormous. I think we’re all pretty OK with that too. As much as I love touring, I also love having money to pay my bills and buy, like, food. So it’ll be nice to be home and focus on crawling out of poverty. I joined a gym for the first time in my life a few days ago. My plan right now is to work out incessantly and drink a bunch of protein shakes so that the next time we get out on the road I’ll look like Henry Rollins.
IW: Have you started to think about the next record yet?
Adams: I have done a lot of thinking about the next record. I’ve done absolutely no writing for it. You know those signs in tacky bars that say, “Free beer tomorrow”? That’s been my approach to writing a new record. I promise every day to begin tomorrow. Rebellion was a pretty huge record for me, like in undertaking the writing. It gave me my first ever panic attack. And even though it’s been out nearly a year, I don’t think it’s had enough time to really sink in. You know how at Thanksgiving after you’ve eaten like three weeks worth of food in twenty minutes and you’ve given your body such an enormous task of digestion that it responds by nearly making you comatose, and so you’re just sprawled out on the floor moaning and like sweating from being full, watching athletes run around on TV making it even worse, and then your aunt is like “who wants pie?!” That’s how I feel about writing a new record right now. It’s like pie way too soon after Thanksgiving. I’ll get hungry soon enough though.
IW: Do you guys write when you’re on the road, or do you usually wait until you get back home and have time off?
Adams: I bring an acoustic guitar on tour and have definitely written a few songs on tour, but it doesn’t happen very often. Here’s why: I prefer to write in alone in a quiet space, and that’s almost impossible to find on tour. We don’t get hotel rooms, we sleep on random floors. We don’t have a backstage at like 99 percent of our shows. The only quiet place for me to sit down with a guitar is in our van. And so, I’ll sit in the van and play guitar sometimes, but that’s only if the weather permits. More than half of the year, it’s way too hot or way too cold to tolerate playing guitar in a van. So, I try to write but I don’t get the opportunity to as often as I’d like.
Adams: Honestly, from our perspective, it doesn’t really feel like much has happened. We still book our tours. We still worry before every single one of those if anyone is going to show up. We still sleep on floors. The band still struggles to break even. The band members still don’t break even. We still work in restaurants when we’re home. Maybe our online profile has risen or something, but that is something I’m trying my very best to have absolutely no knowledge of. By far the greatest thing to happen to this band since Fists… has been touring in Europe. And for being actually surprised by something, our reception overseas has been just that. It’s been a really nice surprise.
IW: What are your plans for 2011?
Adams: As of right now the plans are to maybe do a two-week tour in the spring, possibly something over the summer. We’re heading overseas for a month in September and that can’t come soon enough. I’d like to have a record written by the end of the year or so.
IW: Anything else you want to add?
Adams: Thanks for the interview. And a very sincere thank you to everyone who has listened to our music and/or come out to a show! Also, please head over to thesenumbers.org and support a wonderful organization committed to empowering very deserving youth in South Africa through education.