Interview with Avail: Originally ran in Razorcake #14, now an ebook with new intro! By Sean Carswell

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Regardless of how you might classify Avail, they are a Richmond, Virginia band—a point of pride they’ve made loud and clear.. That pride in their city and the way their environment in Richmond affected them was always evident: on their album titles (Over the James, Dixie), in song content, and frequent mentions in interviews.

Interestingly, Avail wasn’t originally from Richmond. The band moved there a few years after forming in Reston, Virginia, (just outside of Washington, D.C.) in the late 1980s. After numerous lineup changes and instrument switches, their debut album, Satiate, was released in 1992 on Catheter-Assembly and re-released by Old Glory (vinyl) and Lookout! (CD) in 1994.

Satiate contained similar characteristics of bands from the “Revolution Summer” sound coming from nearby Washington D.C. Singer Tim Barry said in a 2003 interview, “…Avail has spent the majority of our time trying to rip off all of those great D.C. bands from the mid ‘80s like Soulside, Marginal Man, Three, Dag Nasty, Kingface, and Gray Matter.” Avail’s sound had melody, sung vocals, and hooks. The music contained structural complexity, but it wasn’t close to being post-hardcore.

While seen by some as an heir to the sound of Rites Of Spring or Embrace, Avail went in its own direction after Satiate’s, release. The band members started integrating different influences into their D.C. sound: a bit of hardcore, some southern and classic rock, and punk rock. As the band put out more albums, the material became less personal (although that still dominated most of the lyrics), and there were more songs about social issues through the lens of the band’s own experiences in Richmond. Tim Barry touched on this in an interview when he pointed out artists such as John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen as lyrical influences. Those two musicians, he noted, “sing about everyday life. If you really expand on it, it can eventually be something that people interpret as political. But I write the same as those guys. They have songs that sometimes have social overtones.”

The songs that Avail wrote were anthems—memorable tunes that excited and uplifted the listener—and shined when they played live. The band’s incessant touring and energetic live shows won them crowds worldwide. Their songs made you want to sing along, jump around, and raise your fist in the air. It was impossible to not have a good time at an Avail show because the band didn’t front or pose. They were the real deal. Their cheerleader, Beau Beau, was one way they kept things light and the crowd entertained. He played no instrument and occasionally did some backing vocals. But his primary job was to excite the audience, get them dancing, and serve as visual entertainment through his own dancing and jumping around.

I saw Avail in 2000 in Indianapolis. I did an interview with them after the show for an online zine I ran, and Tim cared enough to ask me how my experience was with their publicist at Fat Wreck (their label at the time). He wanted to make sure I was treated with respect when setting up the interview—even though I was just some college kid doing a small zine. And then Gwomper, their bassist, farted in front of me during the interview, and I knew without a doubt that Avail were the furthest thing from rock stars.

Avail was just a bunch of nice guys serving as example of how a punk rock band should be: how to work efficiently, not sell out, make some kind of living from your music (hint: it helps if you all live in a house together), and give back to the scene. They reached out to bands, even those that didn’t play similar music to Avail and invited them on tour. It helped expose their fans to bands they might not have otherwise come across. Hot Rod Circuit, American Nightmare, and Hey Mercedes were just some of the bands Avail took out on tour.

While Avail has never officially stated they broke up, they haven’t released any material since 2002 and haven’t played publicly since 2008. Bassist Gwomper played for a bit with Smoke Or Fire and now plays with The Real McKenzies. The band’s last drummer, Ed Trask, has played with Heks Orkest, Kepone, and Corntooth, and is also a successful mural artist in Richmond. Their other long-time drummer, Erik Larson, played in Alabama Thunderpussy and numerous other bands. Larson also released solo material. Joe Banks, the guitarist, has played in Freeman, and also The Ghost Run with Larson and Chuck McCauley, the bassist on Dixie. Beau Beau is a bartender at the Star-Lite in Richmond, and Barry has become well known for his solo career.

–Kurt Morris, 2014

A few years ago, I worked in a rock’n’roll bar in Atlanta, and one of the guys I worked with was an old NYC punker named Jim. Jim was a huge fan of Johnny Thunders and the New York Dolls and the Ramones and all those seventies New York/CBGBs bands. He and I would sit in the back of the bar a lot of nights, watching all the touring and local acts come through, listening to generic hardcore and generic punk and weakly disguised classic rock and fourth generation Ramones knock-offs. Finally, one night Jim gave up on music altogether and told me, “No one’s doing anything original anymore. You can listen to every one of these goddamn bands and tell exactly who they’re ripping off.”

I disagreed. Not about the bands that played in our bar. By and large, they sucked. But about music in general. Right around that time, Avail’s new album, 4AM Friday, had just come out, and I couldn’t listen to it enough. And it was original. And you couldn’t pick out their influences. In fact, the album had nothing to do with the Ramones or the Sex Pistols or Johnny Thunders or any of the bands that everyone rips off, but it fucking rocked. So I dubbed the album onto a cassette for Jim and handed it to him and said, “Here you go, Jim. This’ll make you believe in punk again.” A month later, Jim came into work with a CD of 4AM Friday. “I wore my tape out,” he told me. This is the power of Avail.

For a while after that, whenever the bands were done playing and Jim and I were left to clean up the bar by ourselves, we’d blast 4AM Friday through the club’s sound system and wash away the memories of each night’s generic bands. In my mind, that album became a talisman against generic punk. And it’s not that Avail hadn’t done anything before or after that album. Prior to 4AM Friday, they’d released Dixie, which my friend had dubbed for me, and I wore out the cassette version of it and bought it on CD.

After 4AM Friday, they went on to perfect their mix of hardcore with infectious melodies on both Over the James and One Wrench. They’ve toured incessantly with bands like Dillinger Four and Leatherface, and they’ve brought their high energy live set—complete with their own cheerleader—to just about every corner of the U.S. where one or two punks might be found. And they’ve followed all of this up with some great songs on their latest release, Front Porch Stories.

Still, despite all of their accomplishments over their ten years as a band and despite all of their great music, the best thing they’ve done, in my mind, is fill up the sound system of that rock’n’roll bar late nights in Atlanta, helping Jim and me keep our faith in music despite the fact that we’d spent another evening watching another punk rock slaughter. For this reason, I hunted them down on their last trip through L.A. and did this interview with Avail’s singer, Tim.

Interview, introduction, and photos by Sean Carswell
Boxer image by Kiyoshi Nakazawa
Originally ran in Razorcake #14, 2003

Avail is:
Tim Barry—vocals
Ed Trask—drums
Gwomper—bass
Joe Banks—guitar
Beau Beau—cheerleader

Sean: How was Born Against instrumental in Avail getting started as a band?

Tim: Oh, man, you’re going way back, bringing up old shit. When I was living in this big house in Richmond with the rest of the guys in the band, I used to set up shows. I did shows with bands like Econochrist, Rorschach—the really ultra-underground bands at the time that gave punk a kick in the ass, because punk was really mundane and boring in the early nineties, in my opinion.

I set up a show for a band called Born Against. Adam Nathanson, who was the guitarist, called me up and asked me to set up a show. So I did. And everybody in my house, there was fourteen of us, fell in love with Born Against. And Adam Nathanson, along with the rest of the guys in Born Against, explained to us how we could be part of this underground network of bands touring. Basically, Adam sat me down and taught me how to set up tours. He sent me a list of phone numbers from their previous tours for people and places where they’d had good shows. I started calling the numbers and saying, “Hey, I got your number from Adam Nathanson from Born Against. He said you might be able to set up a show for us.” And the girl on the other end of the line would say, “Yeah, yeah. When are you coming through?” And that’s how we learned to tour—between our roommate, Adam Thompson—who’s now a writer in San Francisco; he writes for the Bay Guardian—he’s the guy who put out our first record. So, without him and Adam Nathanson, the two Adams, Avail would not be what we are right now.

Sean: When did all of this happen?

Tim: The first time I used that list was probably 1993.

Sean: When you did that, did you get any shit for not sounding anything like Born Against?

Tim: No. Our records didn’t sound like Born Against. We didn’t know what we were doing when we recorded our first record, so it sounds more like Kansas than Avail. But, we played differently, live. But, you know what? Come to think of it, we did do a few shows out of town before Adam gave us the list. We had some friends in North Carolina who set up a show for us there. And we had some friends set up a show for us in Florida. And we told everyone in Richmond, “We’re going on our first tour.” It was two fucking shows. We were so excited; we said it was a tour. Years later, we’re doing tours with a hundred and sixty dates.

Sean: What was Catheter Assembly Records?

Tim: Catheter was going back to Adam Thompson’s baby. Adam was a buddy of ours. I actually met him fist fighting him at a show in D.C. He ended up moving into our house later on. Like most men, they seem to bond after a fistfight, at some point. Anyway, Adam was living at the house and we had a whole bunch of songs. He was like, “You know what, I’m gonna start a record label called Catheter and I’m gonna put out Avail’s first record.” And we were like, “All right.” I ended up helping him out. It was him and me putting it together.

Later on, there was another independent record label from down the street called Assembly Records. And, as I was touring so much and didn’t have the ability to sit at home and help with the label, Adam and the guy from Assembly, Chris, kinda merged and it became Catheter Assembly Records. So the original Avail record (Satiate) is actually on Catheter. Then we repressed it on Assembly. And there were three different covers, because they all sucked and we kept changing them.

Sean: I thought there would be more of a story behind the name “Catheter Assembly.” Like, why would you want to name a record label after the act of putting together a catheter?

Tim: Assembly was relevant in Chris’s world because he’s way into labor unions and stuff like that. In fact, he’s a union boss in Las Vegas right now, representing the largest restaurant and hotel union in the country. So that was Chris’s world. And Catheter comes from Adam’s obsession with his urethra. He was constantly sticking stuff up it. Like, I’d walk in the room and he’d have a pencil halfway down his dickhole. That went on for years. That’s where “catheter” came from.

Sean: Who taught you how to ride the rails?

Tim: Woody Guthrie.

Sean: There was no one person who took you down to a freight yard and showed you?

Tim: No, there was, but I listened to records too much—country and bluegrass records that talk about broken-hearted and broke guys, bums hopping freight trains to get away from their problems. I kept thinking about it. I’d always been around trains my whole life. I started getting obsessed with trying to ride them.

I didn’t know what I was doing until a buddy of mine, Ronny—we call him Ronny Richmond—was staying with me and I was talking to him about wanting to hop a train and he was like, “Shit, I’ll do that.” He grew up in a trailer park. He was poor. His uncle had taught him how to ride. So he was like, “Shit, I’ve ridden trains before.” So he took me down to the ACCA yard in Richmond. It runs north and south. He got all stealth and ran around the yard until we found a worker to tell us what train to get on.

I caught my first train the next morning. At six A.M., I woke up on a boxcar. That shit started rolling and that was my first trip. We rode to Rocky Mount, North Carolina and hitchhiked over to Raleigh, North Carolina, and I can’t remember where we went from there. But that was it. I was hooked. I hate it and I love it. I don’t know why I do it.

Sean: Why do you hate it?

Tim: Because it’s lonely as shit. It’ll rip your soul out, sitting on a boxcar by yourself, covered in train soot. You walk off a train and you walk down the street and people who would normally be friendly look at you like you’re some transient piece of crap who’s just rolling through town. It’s an odd thing. Sometimes, I’m riding those freights and I feel like a pirate. I’m high on myself and high on life and screaming at the top of my lungs, “This is the best thing ever.” Bottle of whiskey in my hand. Other times, I’m sitting there on a cold boxcar floor thinking, “Why do I do this? This is the loneliest and most fucked up thing in the world.”

Sean: You’ve touched on it a little bit, but what do you love about it?

Tim: I don’t even know if love is the right word to describe it. Riding freights, for me, is nothing more than a way to break out of that routine that you fall into. My life is really structured at home. I work on band desk work—we manage ourselves—so life becomes really structured and what I need is to just break that, on occasion. It puts everything in perspective. Sometimes, I sit at home and look at my beautiful twelve-year-old dog. I look at my great roommate Gina and my great roommate Al and my awesome neighbors and my awesome neighborhood where everyone is so nice and so welcome that we don’t even lock our doors and I go to band practice and my band buddies are the greatest bunch of guys in the world.

Sometimes, I feel like I take everything for granted. So I step out of that sometimes to gain a perspective, to assure myself that I’m in the right lane in life. I’ll be riding a freight, sleeping in twenty-four degree weather, shivering to fucking death, thinking, “You know what I want more than anything in the world is to be lying in my own bed with my dog curled up with me, two cats sitting on my shoulders.” It’s the trains that make sure I don’t take all of this for granted. It’s voluntary homelessness.

I write a lot of lyrics out there, too. Half of the songs on Over the James and One Wrench were written just prior to, during, or coming home from a train trip.

Sean: That song on the Front Porch Stories, “The Falls,” is that about your neighborhood in Richmond?

Tim: That’s about all of Richmond. It’s a line-by-line blast of shout-outs to friends. The whole thing about “front porch stories,” that’s what you do in Richmond. A lot of people don’t even go to bars. They get on their bikes, pick up a forty, and stop by someone’s front porch. And you can break it down line by line.

“To R.A.G.N., sowing what others may implore”: R.A.G.N. is an abbreviation for Richmond Anti-Globalization Network. So I’m giving them props for all their hard work.

“I’ve been broke and forlorn and caught out with the best at the ACCA yard.” ACCA yard is the big train yard that runs north and south through Richmond. And “the best” is a reference to my great friend Brent who’s helped me through so much and he’s my train-riding partner. I’ve been really bummed out and whatnot, and there’s Brent, listening to me, while we’re riding freights. The whole song is like that. I could go through the whole thing. It’s really a song for Richmonders that I hope somehow other people like.

“Healing but scarred, there’s bullet holes in a porch in Jackson Ward.” That’s about the neighborhood next to mine. One night, six friends of mine were sitting on the porch, drinking with the dogs, and these two thugs rolled up and robbed them. And the guys were so fucking poor that they had no hot water or heat. Actually, no electricity at all. And you can’t rob poor people. So my friends took out a baseball bat. It was guns against the baseball bat. Four of them got shot. One of the thugs had a tech-9. He started spraying them. The other thug had a twenty-two. My friends beat them with a baseball bat. The guy with the tech-9 ended up getting killed. So the songs are just little shout-outs like that. When I went by their house after this to see how they were doing, there were a bunch of bullet holes in their porch.



Sean:
How are they doing?

Tim: All of them are fine. Every single one of them. The guy who got shot the worst got shot four times. It was because he jumped on the dog, trying to save the dog. It’ll bring a tear to your eye. But they’re all alive and fine. Healing but scarred.

Sean: Is it true that you guys have practiced in the same place for ten years?

Tim: Nine years. It’s (the guitarist) Joe’s house. We all used to live there. He ended up buying it. He got married. He has an eleven-year-old son. He bought the house and it still has this scummy-ass band room that smells like cigarette smoke and band stink. We still practice there.

Sean: Do the neighbors mind?

Tim: No. When we moved to that house in ‘93, the block was crumbling, urban decay. We had no neighbors. Well, we had neighbors but they got shot. One afternoon, one girl got shot and killed—young as shit; she was like twenty years old—and the other girl got shot in the arm and she lived. Their house was abandoned for many years after that.

Since then, the neighborhood has really gentrified. Because we were the first people on the block, everyone met us first. The people who own the bars on the corner and the hair shop next door and the flower shop and all, they know us. We always introduced ourselves and said, “We’re in a band. We practice here. The room’s sound proofed. If you ever have any problems, talk to us, not the cops. We’ll reschedule practice.”

Sean: Here’s your philosophical question: When you think of the South, what do you think of? What does it mean to you?

Tim: To me, it’s just a slower pace of life than here in L.A. I get clusterfucked when I’m here. And this is not dissin’, but I feel so overwhelmed. There are too many people, too many cars, too much working to live instead of living and then working.

For me, when I think of Richmond, Virginia, I think of the beginning of the slower pace of life that is the South. It’s really the industrial north of the South. The cut-off line for the South is Fredericksburg, Virginia, which is right up the road from Richmond. After that, it’s just this mega-city that starts in Northern Virginia and spreads up past Boston.

When you think about the entire South, it’s a totally different culture than a place like L.A. or New York or Boston. I kinda embrace that “southern” pace of life, but that southern pace of life is not unlike way up north in Maine or New Hampshire, or like in the Pacific Northwest, like in Bend, Oregon. But the South has that funny clique to it because we lost. And when you lose, you can’t seem to forget it. We get pigeon-holed for racism and everything else.

Sean: Why do you think the South gets pigeon-holed for racism?

Tim: I don’t know. I don’t know why Montana doesn’t get pigeon-holed or L.A. or Orange County—the home of white Aryan resistance and huge white power movements—don’t get pegged for it as much as a place like the South. Pretty much all we have are some old, crippled, about-to-die Ku Klux Klan guys who don’t have any pull at all. And they barely even exist.

The problem, I guess, is that old Virginia mentality that old folks still cling on to. Like, we have Monument Avenue with Confederate “heroes.” We have statues up all over the place. And when Arthur Ashe, the African American tennis player who died of AIDS, when his monument is proposed to go up on Monument Avenue, it’s only the old Virginians who don’t want it, who say, “No. It’s heritage desecration.” And everyone else is like, “These old folks’ll die soon enough anyway; put the goddamn monument up.”

So those elements still exist. But they exist throughout the entire United States. I’d say the panhandle through Texas and into Southern California is probably more racist than the South, with respect to the way people in the Southwest deal with Mexicans and people from Latin America in general. I mean, I’ve never heard of such crap in my life as what I read in the papers out here.

I think the biggest racist thing that’s happened in Richmond in the last ten years is the Church of the Creator—those white power freaks of nature who came out to our library to hold a meeting. Five hundred people showed up to protest, and the meeting hall held sixty people. Thirty-nine of them were black Baptists who got there first and took up all the seats. It’s weird. The South gets pigeon-holed, but it’s a national problem. It needs to be addressed as a national problem.

Sean: What’s your involvement of AK Press?

Tim: I don’t have an involvement, except that I’m a fan.

Sean: Don’t you bring along their “bookmobile” on tour?

Tim: We haven’t for a little while. The way that used to work is that some of our roadies in the past did distribution with AK Press. We’ve always welcomed anything norm-challenging along on tour. AK Press is obviously norm-challenging. The books are relevant and classic and fun to read. It’s great. It adds a whole new element to the usual mundane and boring rock culture that we’re all exposed to consistently. So, in that case, we support them. And I guess I’ve been wearing this AK Press sweatshirt for about two years now. I’m sure it’s in plenty of photos.

Sean: I read an interview that you did with a Richmond zine, and you talked about two unsung heroes from Richmond: Gabriel Prosser and Elizabeth Van Lew. Who were they?

Tim: Gabriel Prosser was a slave. In 1800—it was after Nat Turner’s rebellion—Gabriel Prosser tried to start one of the first slave insurrections. He and a group of other slaves rebelled. They grabbed hoes and pitchforks and anything they could get their hands on, and their idea was to walk through the county in the evening, grab more slaves, and make their way to the capital and take it over and start a slave revolt.

I believe it was late summer, in August. If you’ve ever been to Virginia, late August has some of the most intense thunderstorms you’ve ever seen. And, basically, the road got muddied and the slaves couldn’t go on any longer. Eventually, Gabriel Prosser ended up hiding in the swamps of the James River for a while. He was hanged with six other people. Pretty much everyone else got away. I don’t remember if they had murdered any whites. The city finally did put up something on Gabriel Prosser very recently.

Nat Turner, before that, had. In fact, I have a buddy who I work with, Earl Mason, who’s a direct descendent of Nat Turner, so when I get home, he’s taking me to his land and he’s gonna show me all the hideouts that his very historic family had. It’s all on this farmland down in SuffolkCounty.

Anyway, Elizabeth Van Lew, as far as Richmond folklore goes, is considered a raging fucking lunatic. She came from a really wealthy family in Church Hill. Extremely, extremely wealthy. And she stayed loyal to the Union throughout the Civil War. She was a spy for the Union. She spent her time in the streets, pretending she was insane, but she was really collecting information and hanging out with all the high-up Confederates—which she could do because of her wealth—and dropping notes off to the Union commanders during the peninsula campaign.

Later on, when the Union was coming into Richmond from every direction, she had a really prominent role in the movements of Union troops. I don’t know if she’s an unsung hero or a traitor. It depends on your perspective. I’d just like to see more of that history in our city because that’s fairly unknown.

We know about Robert E. Lee. We know about Stonewall Jackson. We know about Jeb Stuart. We know about Jefferson Davis. We know about the Union cause and the Confederate cause, but we don’t know the true stories about the everyday people involved in the war. I’d rather see a monument to a random Richmond private who fought in the Civil War and died and some random Union private, and hear their stories, than hear the same old rhetoric that comes out with all this neo-Confederatism. Elizabeth Van Lew is relevant. It would be neat for people to learn more about her.
At the same time, somebody firebombed a mural of Robert E. Lee. I got blamed for it.

Sean: Who blamed you for it?

Tim: Within two hours of it happening, the Richmond Times-Dispatch called me up, not accusing me, but doing that old, “What’s the buzz? You know what happened, right?” They totally thought I did it. I’m just gonna leave it at that. It was a bad situation.

Sean: Did you do it?

Tim: No, I didn’t fucking do it.

Sean: I had to ask.

Tim: Yeah. I should’ve done it. I endorse it, but I didn’t do it. There’s a twelve thousand dollar award for the capture of whoever did it. They take that shit seriously down there.

Sean: I’ll ask you less academic questions, now. You guys all went to the same high school together, right?

Tim: Yeah. I graduated from South Lakes. Joe graduated from South Lakes. Beau went to South Lakes for four years—ninth grade twice and tenth grade twice, then he joined the Navy when he was seventeen. Gwomper dropped out after his second or third time in ninth or tenth grade, whatever it was. And Ed did not go to South Lakes. Ed went to some other school in Reston.

Sean: Did you all go back to your ten year reunion?

Tim: I did not go. You know why? Because up there, it’s suburbia. It’s the beginning of a “planned” community that turned into just an expansion of Washington D.C. The people I went to high school with all went to points north.

When they got the ten year reunion together and they contacted me, I asked for specifics. The specifics were a good sum of money, which I don’t have. My money goes to rent and dog food and bills and not a hundred bucks to some fucking reunion, just so I could look at people and laugh that they have boring jobs and I have fun in life.

I didn’t go because the invitation was like, “Meet at Clyde’s,” which is this yuppie bar, “for cocktails.” I didn’t even know what a “cocktail” was until somebody told me. I found out that a cocktail is when I drink beer early in the day.

Then, the next day, there was golfing and a formal party. And you’re talking to a man who’s never worn a suit in his entire life. So I bailed on it. And the only time I find it justifiable to shit on people because I’m in a band that’s semi-successful is when those people are high school friends. Other than that, I never talk about it.

But there was something in me that wanted to go there and say things like, “Oh, really, you work in front of a computer with a fluorescent light glowing over you? That’s boring. I just got back from touring Japan.” So it’s better that I didn’t go. Beau did not go either. He would’ve had to go as my date, because he didn’t graduate.

Sean: On the back, inside cover of One Wrench, you have a picture of guys lined up with shovels…

Tim: I don’t know who they are. We threw that record together right quick and that was something that Ed had found. He’d be better suited to answer that question. What I think it is is an old picture of the western expansion of the railroads. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of a story behind it. I wish we would’ve taken more time choosing things closer to our lives.

Sean: You’re wearing a “Free Mumia” shirt in that album insert. Why should Mumia be freed?

Tim: I wear that shirt intentionally to spark dialogue regarding Mumia Abu Jamal’s case. He’s on death row for the murder of a police officer. I do not stand behind the slogan “Free Mumia.” I just wear the shirt to spark conversation. I would like to see Mumia have a new trial because, through all of the research I’ve done, I truly believe that he was not treated fairly by the judicial system.

I wasn’t there. I don’t know exactly what happened, but there are so many flaws in his case. Obviously, through the many moratoriums that have happened throughout the country, people up high have realized the discrimination against the blacks and any non-whites or poor people—particularly with sentencing and with death penalty cases. And I will say, for the record, that I’m adamantly opposed to the death penalty. That stems from the inequality for poor people in the judicial system.

Sean: So why don’t you stand behind the idea of freeing Mumia?

Tim: With a retrial, I believe he would be freed. I don’t want to see anybody who’s been convicted of something to just be let out. I’m saying retrial first, because the logical next step is to free him. Once they go through the real process of examining the case. But it’s a really catchy slogan.

Sean: What’s your involvement with Food Not Bombs?

Tim: We donate all of the money we make from Richmond shows to Food Not Bombs. It’s a substantial amount of money every year. I was around when it started in Richmond ten years ago, and I took a proactive role then. My responsibilities on the road are too demanding now.

So now we donate our money. They have a van. If anyone’s arrested, they can fund lawyer fees. And right on down the line, everything from salt and pepper to trash cans to… shit, man, if you want to cook a real meal for two hundred people, think of how much those fucking soup bowls cost and all the skillets and everything. You’ve got to have real shit and it has to be up to code. So everything’s really clean, and we fund them all the cleaning products to have a real, functioning kitchen. And I’m proud of that. What Food Not Bombs does is build community, and that’s important to us.

Sean: You have that song “Lombardy Street” on Over the James. I don’t want to know what the song means, but what does Lombardy Street itself mean to you?

Tim: That’s where I met the person who the song is about. She lives in San Diego now. I’ll see her tomorrow. She’s a great, great friend of mine. I don’t even know if she really knows who the song is about. It’s more me questioning myself than dogging somebody. I’m really good at critiquing myself. It’s better for me to do it with words on records than to do it with a gun in my mouth.

Discography:
Who’s to Say What Stays the Same 7” (Sunspot, 1991)
Satiate (Catheter-Assembly, 1992 / re-released by Old Glory and Lookout!, 1994)
Attempt to Regress 7” (Catheter-Assembly, 1993)
Live at the King’s Head Inn (Old Glory, 1994)
Dixie(Lookout!, 1994 / re-released by Jade Tree, 2006)
4am Friday (Lookout!, 1996 / re-released by Jade Tree, 2006)
The Fall of Richmond 7” (split with (Young) Pioneers, Lookout!, 1997)
Live at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco (Lookout!, 1998)
Over the James in (Lookout!, 1998 / re-released by Jade Tree, 2006)
100 Times (Fat Wreck, 1999)
6/29/97 (Fireside Bowl, Chicago, IL) (V.M.L./Liberation, 1999)
One Wrench (2000, Fat Wreck)
Front Porch Stories (2002, Fat Wreck)