SINCE BY MAN – interview by mike bushman
Attention spans collapse. The kids are bred on 3-second edits and information overflows. The knowledge can be deafening. It splinters most attempts at linear thought processes into shards of screams and unpredictable guitar confrontations. Like any kid, it’s all a mask worn to hide the drive and desire that fuels the expression. It surfaces, but only so to remind them that they do indeed feel. They do indeed bleed. Exploding in fireworks of hardcore breakdowns stapled with converging fragments of melody.
Isolation is a necessity to ignore the popular. Milwaukee serves well for this.
The cold makes them group together more tightly. The music follows their lead. “We Sing the Body Electric” will deliver you clear. Sam Macon is the voice.
How is Sam Macon this uneasy Friday?
We’re doing all right. We are going to play in Reno Nevada tonight.
Did kids used to call you Sam ‘Bacon’ in school?
I got a little bit of that. Sam Bacon this or that. All that stuff.
I’m sorry. I won’t call you Sam Bacon.
There are no withstanding emotional scars from that, so it’s ok.
So Sam Macon is from Wisconsin. Is the entire band from Milwaukee as well?
All but one. Our bassplayer Brian is actually from Detroit.
How old is Sam Macon?
Sam Macon is 23 years old.
How did you end up actually getting signed to Revelation Records being from Milwaukee?
We were doing the west coast with friends of ours from Milwaukee, “Seven Day of Samsara” and we played at the Che Café in San Diego with Drowningman. Ghazal from Revelation was there to see that show and just saw us and was into it. And we met each other, not knowing that she was working for Rev or anything. A mutual friend contacted me and said, “What do you guys think about maybe getting pushed to get on Rev?” and we thought that would be pretty cool. So Ghazal started talking to everybody and the next time we came out to Southern California, she got the necessary decisions makers to come out and see us and they liked it, so they signed us.
Let’s talk about Wisconsin some more. Did you ever notice how sometimes on TV, they will use ‘Wisconsin’ or ‘Milwaukee’ as a punch line to a joke? Why is it such a funny place to be from?
I don’t know if it’s because we are from there… but almost every single movie and television show has some sort of Milwaukee/Wisconsin reference.
Well, it’s funnier than say… Oklahoma.
Unlike Oklahoma or Omaha or some Midwest city that nobody knows anything about, there has been some sort of Milwaukee references through TV shows like “Happy Days” and “Laverne and Shirley” and stuff like that. And then the beer thing. And the cheese thing. So the only claims to fame that Milwaukee has are really weird offbeat things.
GenCon is in Milwaukee. Do you play Dungeons and Dragons Sam Macon?
No, it’s funny though because we are out with the Curl Up and Die kids, and they are total comic book dudes. And a couple of them are into like gaming. And we were talking about how we can’t really relate. I know Justin our guitar player was really into an RPG video game. He was a total Final Fantasy dude. But ah, no Dungeons and Dragons for me.
How much cheese do you eat?
I eat a fair amount of cheese. Trying to be more vegetarian… eating a lot of cheese pizza.
I was assuming you were not a vegetarian like many of your hardcore peers. Coming from the land of meat and cheese.
There are like two places you go and get something to eat [vegetarian]. But it’s not a big craze in Milwaukee.
Tell the people what a cheese curd is. People in California don’t know what a cheese curd is.
A cheese curd is a weird little cheese ball thing that isn’t made into a square or any real defined shape. It’s kind of like… little nubs of cheese in a bag. It just comes from like the top I think. From when the cheese curdles… I don’t even know. It’s good. One time our guitar player Justin ate this whole bag of dill flavored cheese curds and drank like a whole carton of orange juice and totally barfed everywhere.
What is the music climate in Milwaukee?
The scene that we associate with and are involved in is like really slamming right now. It’s been going pretty well and shows are well attended. More are supportive of their hometown bands. The weird contradiction is that a lot of touring acts that probably doing really well in similar sized cities, kinda get the shaft when they come to Milwaukee unless they have a good local band opening. It’s not geographically on the way to anywhere else.
Are you angry that you live in Milwaukee? You sometimes sound a bit angry Sam Macon.
Well no, y’know, with those loud guitars, I just scream a lot. But no, I love Milwaukee. Milwaukee is really good. The people in the bands that we associate with have more to do with who we are friends with… the people who are in the same state of mind as opposed to a musical sound. So a show will have a garage rock band, an indie rock band, then a punk band and a hardcore band. And from an economical standpoint, it’s the cheapest worthwhile city in America to live in.
Why does ¡SinceByMan! use exclamation points before and after their name? Should the proper pronunciation be (screams) “¡SinceByMan!”?
Yeah, you are supposed to scream it every time you say it.
No. The reason it’s before and after, we can up with that and the little insignia for the logo, just with the exclamation points, we wanted the upside down exclamation points to have some sort of connection to the logo when it’s written out. And it’s all really just a bite on the Impulse Records logo.
‘Screamo’ – bands like Blood Brothers, Glassjaw, very erratic screamy bands. Would you be a Screamo band?
I guess maybe for a lack of a better term. For me, Screamo is just the bastardization of ’emo’ and ‘hardcore’. Because hardcore has become so specific to like chunky metal mosh. And emo is only like radio pop rock. But what I recognize at emo started over a decade ago, it was like really screamy, pretty aggressive music. And the bands that I thought were hardcore, ranged in sound more than I think hardcore bands do now. I thought the Gorilla Biscuits were hardcore. And I thought that like, Swing Kids (early San Diego, pre-Locust) were hardcore. I filed that all under hardcore.
“We Sing the Body Electric” is the title of your latest release? What the hell does that mean?
‘I Sing the Body Electric’ is actually a chapter of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”, a big long poem book. It really doesn’t have any direct connection with that. “We Sing the Body Electric” just kind of had a vibe about it that we thought was in sync with what was going on the record. We just kind of like the way it sounds.
The disk starts out very assaulting, but gets smoother as it progresses? Intentional?
We wanted to start pretty aggressively and get the attention. A lot of thought went into the flow of the record and what songs went where. There are really intense tracks in the beginning but then some more accessible stuff, and then it kind of ends with a mix of the two.
“If it Bleeds It Leads” – Noise backed by a poetic call to attention. What is the inspiration/motivation to start the disk this way?
We knew that this would be peoples first listen to us. Because our other stuff was so much limited releases and limited exposure. So we wanted to start it off with some kind of intro track to let people know where we are coming from. So that was the main idea. What is specifically said in that is kind of an ambiguous sort of overdramatic call to arms.
“Push the Panic”, one of the most dynamically challenging songs, and one of the best, that is essentially the first song, when you do the smoother vocals, you remind me of male version of Andrea Zollo, the singer for Pretty Girls Make Graves. Does Sam Macon mind being compared to a female vocalist?
No I don’t mind being compared to a female vocalist. Actually my girlfriend today just told me that I sing like a girl sometimes. We love that band. We did our whole record before I heard them. “Push the Panic” that’s probably a band favorite. We like playing that a lot live and we like it on the record.
I notice a subtle use of electronic flairs that give an added… what dynamic that add to your music? (example: the intro of Death of Decadence)
We have a like a drum machine and sequencer/sampler thing that we have when we play live and on the record. We had been kicking around the idea of kicking around some electronics for about two years, almost as soon as we started playing it was always an idea. And when we were starting to write for this new record, we knew that now was the time to start working on it and experimenting with it. The way electronics are used on “We Sing the Body Electric” is more like a sample of what is to come. I expect the electronics to become more involved and less in just parts. Better incorporated. It’s not as intergraded as we think it will be eventually as soon as we get better at it. We wanted to add another dynamic and have a little bit more going on that two guitars and a bass.
“In Threes” is a very somber, downwardly spiraling song. It made me sad Sam Macon. I had to smoke at least three bongs to snap out of that one.
Aw man. 3 bongs. That’s a bummer man.
It’s a compliment.
That song is sad. That song started out as a live song, and people reacted really intensely to it. Justin’s father had committed suicide and when we wrote that song, my grandfather had recently passed, so the lyrics are about that and it’s a total bummer of a song. I mean, it’s beautiful and I like the way it comes across. In the recording, we did so much layering, we can’t really play it live. We won’t be able to do it justice. So until we sort of amp up all of our technology so we can do it the way it sounds on the record, we won’t be playing it live. We really wanted it on the record, but without it coming out of left field and be totally random. We tried really hard to get it in there without it just being like, “What the hell is this doing on the record. It doesn’t really have any place.”
I notice that the CD layout as well as your website design shows some obvious attention to a higher design aesthetic. The website even has it’s own set of links for design magazines. Who is responsible for the ¡SinceByMan! packaging?
Justin did the website, but all of the band are a bunch of art dorks. Justin and Brian are both going to school for graphic design and I just graduated from school for film. So when we were doing the layout after the record was all done, we really wanted it to come across like a package. We wanted it to be apparent that a lot of thought went into every step of making the record. And we love to do it so that’s probably why there was extra attention to it. We do all of our own shirts, we do all of everything.
Did you have to ask for that in contractual agreements that you sign?
It was one of the things we made clear before getting involved in that, where we have total control over what everything looks like. The most subtle things really piss us off. Like the way our name is written ¡SinceByMan!, like the way we have it written, it’s all jammed together, and every time Rev puts it in something, they separate it.
“SINCE BY MAN COMEDY HOUR- JOKES ONLY HERE FROM NOW ON – anything about real life things will be immediately erased. Thanks.” it says on your website forums. Were things getting too serious there for you guys?
No… that message board is mainly just our close friends. When someone does post a serous inquiry, usually one of our friends will beat us to responding and just like make fun of the person and write something stupid and unrelated to the band. That’s not really meant to be a forum for any real information to be gathered or anything. That’s for the news section, or emailing us to get any accurate information. The board is just for a bunch of people being dorks I guess.
Are you a funny guy Sam Macon?
We amuse ourselves… I don’t know if we come across as funny or not.
Some of the posts on your forum cracked me up. If I may…
Yeah, that’s my friend Joe.
Not true. No conversation has ever gone down like that. I promise.
Does Sam Macon pick up on a lot of unsuspecting little girls?
No I don’t. I’m definitely not into the weird ‘people like you cause you are in a band’ thing.
Does that situation present itself to you?
Here and there, but on a pretty subdued level. I think it’s a fictional myth for people who haven’t actually ever been on tour, that going on tour is some weird crazy hook-up fest. That just isn’t the reality of it all. Well, that’s not the reality of the community we are involved in. People are going to see shows because they like music. Not to get autographs and weird shit like that.
So back to the album, or better yet, being a band in Milwaukee, because that just fascinates me. How did a band from Milwaukee get on a European tour, playing festivals with Hatebreed?
Man, that’s a good fucking question. I don’t know how that happened. I guess a lot of that is stuff that being on Rev has afforded us. And being on Rev was kind of a big fluke chance also, just because we played the right show in California and someone happened to be there. The tour in Europe is being booked by Avocado Booking, which is these really awesome kids from Germany, who also do a label called Join The Team Player Records. We are actually doing a split with the guy’s band who is doing the tour. They do it all themselves. They’ve done Converge, Hope Conspiracy and Locust and are really down and know what they are doing and are professional in a kind of way that we are comfortable with it. They know what they are doing and they are covering their bases, but it’s not all business. It’s people doing it because they want to get these bands over to Europe. And we are extremely flattered that they contacted Rev and got in touch with them to get in touch with us and said they’d like to do a tour for us.
So have you ever been overseas?
No. We’ve never played out of the country.
Not even Canada?
No we never even played Canada. We had a show in Canada once and we couldn’t get over the border. They found all our merchandise and all that shit. You have to pay taxes and all this crazy shit it. And you need work permits technically to make money in Canada and bring it back. We didn’t have a good scheme to face the border. A lot of bands fake recording contracts to get over there. They will say they are on tour but are taking a couple days off to go record in Canada. Then there is like a fake phone number where the person who is doing the show leaves some kind of phony message on an answering machine so you can call and check up on it. There are ways to scam in there. But we just didn’t have everything figured out, so we didn’t even try.
How hard is it to tour the US when you are based out of Milwaukee?
It’s really hard to do any tour when you are an unknown band no matter where you are. So I’m sure when we were booking our own tours and calling around and we are like we are like, “Hey were are this band from Milwaukee.” And they are like, “Where?” When we go on tour, lots of people are like, “Where is Milwaukee? Isn’t that like between Colorado and Georgia?” So hopefully we are doing something to change that.
What has Sam Macon sacrificed to succeed in ¡SinceByMan!?
Money is basically the main thing. But I hate working shitty jobs. And I don’t like being in Milwaukee all the time. So I can’t really even call this a sacrifice. It’s really picking and choosing what’s important to you right now. And right now, what’s important to me is being in this band and going on these tours. So I’m not really sacrificing anything.
What has made this all worth the while?
Hoping that things will only go up and improve from here… the thing that has made it all worthwhile is the extra opportunities that being in ¡SinceByMan! has allowed me to partake in. Basically just like touring and meeting the coolest people ever. In a couple of months we are going to Europe. That’s the kind of stuff that’s way beyond fringe benefits like that’s the reason to do it. Putting out the records and playing the shows is of course awesome and the main thing that’s going on. But the ultimate perk is all the life experiences that come along with being on the road for months at a time. Great shows in the middle of Iowa. I just think that’s really cool. A neat way of seeing things and meet lots of people.
If I was an unsuspecting little girlie, which I am very often, what words of wisdom would you give me in these troubled times?
I always have a lot to say, but I can’t ever give out little pieces of advice. If it has anything to do with getting into music at all… it sounds sort of lame, but just to keep it real. Right now, the big thing with people I’ve seen in music, there is so many people coming out with these kind of contrived little angles of how to get in. Everybody’s got their little look or their little angle. So keep it real.
And on a final note, and I hate to get political, but I gotta ask…
Freddy Krueger VS Jason Voorhees?
I dunno man, who is gonna win that fight? Aw man, that’s intense. Because I’m a huge horror movie fan. Growing up and reading Fangoria every week, I was always waiting for that. And there were always the rumors. And a couple of years ago, I did an internship out in LA because I’m a film dork. One of the kids I had met was working at New Line Cinema and was there when they bought the script. So I got to read it. But supposedly it’s changed a lot. I fucking know who wins.
Leak that shit.
No. No. I can’t. I think that Jason will win.
So there is a definite winner?
In the version that I read that was bought, there was a winner. But once a company buys a script, they can do whatever they want with it. And it’s been over three years now, so I’m sure it’s changed a bit. But I think the smart money would be on Jason. Freddy is more entertaining but Jason is more brutal.
And he’s survived more movies.