To download this interview as an ebook, click here.
Spoiler alert: This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb broke up. I’m getting this out of the way now, because it just doesn’t seem fair to slowly lead up to that bummer piece of news for anyone who might not know. This group of positive, forward-thinking best friends couldn’t make it last. It’s been ten years after this interview ran and twenty years since Scott was in the band that is no more.
But let’s backtrack a bit.
If there is one thing to be said about This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb, they were the living embodiment of DIY throughout the entirety of their career. After this interview ran in 2005 the band expanded their presence, playing bigger festivals like SXSW and The Fest. Despite these larger gigs, they also continued to play small, all-ages venues, secret shows at Atlas Clothing, and community or charity-focused festivals such as the Harvest of Hope Festival in 2009, which benefitted migrant and seasonal farm workers living in the U.S. Their music was released on Plan-it-X Records, a notable DIY label owned and operated by a group of friends, one of whom was drummer Teddy “Ted” Helmick.
TBIAPB also continued to create music focused on civil rights and anti-violence. The latter proved to be ironic, as a number of incidents over the next few years would have their name associated with criminal activity. In 2006, an OhioUniversity police officer noticed a bicycle sporting a This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb sticker. A red flag was raised, the area was cordoned off, and part of the campus was closed for hours until the bike was destroyed by a bomb squad. The owner, a graduate student, was initially charged with inducing panic. However, the charges were dropped a few days later and the student was awarded money for the damages to his bike. Later that same year a similar incident occurred in Philadelphia, followed by another in the same vein three years later in Memphis.
This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb announced February 3, 2011 that they were ending after Ted’s departure, though Rymodee and Terry continued to write and play together in Chattanooga-based Zippers To Nowhere.
I’ll pause to say I think I may have started this new intro off on a misleading note. Despite the break-up of TBIAPB, the members are still friends and comrades in the DIY punk ethos. “The bottom line is our friendship,” Terry said in this interview and that is something that has never been compromised. In fact, only a year after the breakup, This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb re-banded and went on a West Coast mini-tour. Teddy and Rymodee later reconnected to form Squishers.
It has been over seven years since their last album Convertible was released. However, This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb still manages to garner newer and younger fans every day, with their messages of positivity and equality continually ringing true to new generations.
If you find yourself near Pensacola, both Sluggo’s and End of the Line vegan cafés—owned by Terry and Rymodee, respectively—are still open and operational. So drop in and say ‘hi.’–Jamie Rotante, 2015
Pipe Dreams Come True
This Bike Is A Pipebomb are good folk.
There are plenty of people who love to make music, travel, meet new folks, talk about their passions, and daydream about their fancies. There are plenty of people who talk about all these things in a bar, around a campfire, on the couch, or in a café. They wait and they wait for the right time to make these ideas become a reality, and that time never seems to come. This Bike Is A Pipebomb is a rare group of folks who talk the talk and walk the walk. They make things happen and, chances are, if they verbalize the thought, they make the idea happen quickly.
I know this firsthand. Along with the original drummer Scott McDonald, I was an original member of This Bike Is A Pipebomb. Like the way most bands start, our small talk and our similar interests led us to play music in our spare time. We got together a couple of times, had a good time, and I figured it would be like most slacker bands I had played in—we will play some music, hopefully throw a set together, and maybe play a show or two around town. Rymo and Terry had much higher goals.
That was about ten years ago and it does not appear to me that TBIAPB is slowing down any. In fact, it seems like they are packing more and more steam over the years. I was in the band for the first year. We did more in that year than most bands do in ten years. I get tired thinking about what This Bike Is A Pipebomb must have done in ten years.
Like I said, Terry and Rymo make things happen.
Interview by Scott Stanton
Photos by Saucecherry
Artwork by Causey
Rymodee—guitar, harmonica, vocals
This interview originally ran in Razorcake #27, 2005
Scott: When did This Bike Is A Pipebomb start?
Rymo: Well, I don’t know exactly. I think it was like in what? ‘94? It was me, Terry, and these two guys named Scott .You being one of the Scotts, and Scott Macdonald, the drummer, being the other Scott. Terry had no idea how to play bass.
Scott: I can’t remember exactly when the band started either, but yeah, Terry learned to play the bass quick.
Rymo: I was just playing folky country chords behind your very Devo sounds and it got pretty loud. It was a lot different than it is now. We brainstormed and came up with a name and a two-week tour in two weeks flat. I’m really proud of that. We would play places and people would say, “Hey, how long have you been together?” We’d say, “Oh, I don’t know. Two or three weeks?” We get asked about our origin a lot for some reason.
Scott: I remember one of the very first things we did was pack ourselves and our equipment in a Gulf Power utility truck that Terry’s mama owned and we traveled over to Mobile, Alabama. We played an open mic night show there. That was fun. Who’s in This Bike Is A Pipebomb now?
Rymo: It’s me, Teddy Ted, and Terry. We are from Pensacola, Fla., but Ted has moved to the Bay Area of California. Me and Terry have been in the band for nine years. Teddy has been playing drums for us for around seven years. Before that, Terry and I were in This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb and it was a lot different than it is now. The old band broke up and Terry and I decided to do it differently, with more of a country feel. I guess me and Terry were really into old classic country at the time. We wanted to do something completely different, so we just started learning all my folk songs and we asked Dave Dondero to drum for us. It was immediately obvious that we weren’t going to be as country as we thought we were, but we really enjoyed it, so we kept it up.
Ted: I used to not like the music too much, but when I finally figured out the lyrics and learned how to play the drums better, I started to love it. It is amazing to play to people all over the U.S. and get to talk to them about issues that affect us all and learn how things are where they live.
Terry:I want to say how much I love these two guys after all these years of being squeezed into a little metal box, or cab—front seat solidarity; those were the days—and learning to tour for the long haul. I think we’ve gone through everything together in such close quarters that it amazes me.
Scott: Country and folk music are a big influence on TBIAPB. What artists were you into?
Rymo: I was really into Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Tom T. Hall, Loretta Lynn, as well as a lot of blues. Not just Memphis blues, but some of the blues singers who sang more folk songs or crooned, like Josh White, Leadbelly, Jesse Fuller, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee.
Scott: What accomplishments with TBIAPB are you all most proud of?
Rymo: Just to see that people in states far away know all the words and are really glad we showed up to play their town. I really felt like we made a mark.
Terry: Highlights from the Pipe Bomb are definitely the Alaska tour, which was crazy and fun. Getting to play and tour with Spot (producer of early Bad Brains and Black Flag, among other accomplishments) was amazing. Every day we’d just look at him sitting there in our van and say, “Whooaa. That’s Spot!” He means a lot to us and to the history of This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb and I still tell everyone that the first record is my very favorite because Spot plays on it. So many successes: three full-length albums, solo records for Rymodee, great shows, even greater meals cooked for each other and friends we’ve made along the way, kids telling us exciting “Pipebomb” stories, being asked to play protests and actions all over the country that mean so much to us, art openings and art space openings and, unfortunately, art space closings like the 40th Street warehouse eviction party that we just played in San Francisco, leaving shows laughing at the fact that we were almost trampled, watching the DIY community flourish and expand. The thing that I am most proud of is the fact that through it all we have not changed the way we do things. I can honestly say that it all means and feels the same as it did in the beginning—for all of us. We just played a backyard in Wyoming to six tall people and about seven or eight little tiny people and it was the funnest show of tour! We all still get so excited and it makes me love touring and playing and so much more.
Scott: What about accomplishments outside of the band?
Terry: As just a regular mortal, my proudest accomplishments have been making and keeping this wonderful circle of friends. Did you know that I can just pick up the phone anytime I want and call Replay Dave (Grabass Charelstons)? I am proud of Sluggo’s (the venue that Terry’s the proprietor of), of course, and its evolution over fifteen years changing and mutating along with me. I’ve met and worked with so many inspiring and talented folks in those years. I count myself lucky almost beyond belief. My crowning achievement is Grendel (Terry’s dog). He is such a wonderful character—very handsome in his striped suit and if you’ve never met him, I encourage everyone to come to Florida and hang with him. Do make an appointment though… he keeps a very busy schedule.
Scott: You guys tour a lot and many people probably do not realize how much work goes into driving around the country playing music. It’s hard work. It’s not like a KISS lyric: “rock and roll all night and party every day.”
Rymo: In an ideal world, labor and creativity should go hand in hand.
Terry:We do tour a lot and have all made a lot of effort to rearrange our lives—I think they call that sacrifice to keep doing this. It is great fun and nothing is better than the feeling when we are playing live, all squeezed up together tight on the stage, just playing for each other and our friends who come to the shows, laughing at each other’s mistakes and just plain having fun. The bottom line is our friendship. I love these two guys. They are my best friends and this is how we express our friendship. As an extension of that, we are friends because we share a lot of feelings and beliefs, have very similar lifestyles, and so we also get to express our shared beliefs and hopes for our community, this country, and the world even. We can also register our shared complaints.
Scott: Before the modern entertainment industry barged on us, music was mainly based around faith, religion, and church. Folk music is quite important to y’all. Is religion?
Rymo: I am not sure I believe in a higher power. I don’t really like to talk about religion. As much as I don’t like religion, I think it is still important for people to be able to believe in whatever they want.
Scott: I am just asking since music has such a strong tradition in religion.
Rymo: Religion is pretty important to me, but I’m not religious at all. I grew up a Southern Baptist and actually dealt with that up to about age twenty-five or so. At times I really think there is a higher power, but I have a hard time believing in God.
Terry: I do have intense religious beliefs. However, they’re not traditional and very personal and they involve the force of will, the human spirit and the power of punk rock. After all, it’s called “folk” music. It’s about power in numbers and the force of will that makes a man beat a machine and the never-ending spirit of strong individuals who are going to live their lives on their terms no matter what the cost. That is religion.
Scott: Punk rock, in one sense, is just another market of music created by a business that needed a label to sell a product. But it is obviously something very real to you and many other folks. What does punk rock means to you?
Terry: When I say punk rock, I am not speaking strictly about music at all. It’s a general term I use when someone works so hard on something, anything—it could be art, it could be food, it could be a sewing project—for no reward at all except joy. I forgot about Hot Topic and “punk rock” being played on the radio now. That’s outside of my realm. I am so pop culture illiterate that it’s almost embarrassing. Maybe I’ll just make up my own word, money be damned! In terms of a label for This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb, I think that we are lucky to get to play with great punk bands, but we’re also allowed to play on bills with acoustic acts or blue grass bands or whatever. The fact that we sort of straddle this fence makes our travels very interesting because the music that we get to enjoy every night on tour is so diverse. But these are all punk to me. We are part of that amazing community that allows you to travel. You know that you will always have a place to stay and someone will be there to offer food or let you cook food with them. You will play shows in their living room and dance while they play and laugh and probably sustain a head or knee injury at some point. Punk is a crappy old van held together with a pickle jar lid that you have to hobble to in the morning and drive to another show! We’ll probably be doing this forever.
Scott: I don’t think anyone will hate you for saying that and if they hate on you for that, it is their problem. Many folk songs were written and sung to lighten the load or to take one’s mind off the hard work they had. What laboring or jobs have you all done over the years to finance your tours or pay your bills?
Terry: It would be hard to convince the traditionalist that what we do is work, but it sure takes up a lot of our time and we do occasionally get paid for it.
Scott: Our society is warped on what work is or isn’t and that is messed up. Damn, over the last nine years, you all have worked really hard, put more time, sweat, energy, and passion into this band than a person who now has his own medical or law practice, and started med school the same time TBIAPB started. You all do work hard and it sounds like you all get great rewards for yourself. That’s great.
Rymo: I guess Ted and Terry are the hardest workers. I have actually tried my whole life to work as little as possible. I have been a lifeguard, burger flipper, fireman, soccer coach, soundman, cook, dishwasher, professional screen printer, but as far as touring, I think they usually go unfunded.
Scott: It’s hard to find steady work when you tour a lot.
Rymo: I think if you don’t thoroughly love your job, you should quit! This is ideally, though. Some people have to feed several mouths, you know, and not everyone is as lucky as I am. But, personally, I made a vow to not work at a job that I hated. Just think, eighty or probably ninety percent of Americans can’t stand their fucking job. There’s got to be something they’d rather do. A different job. Something they always wanted to do or wanted to learn. Work is important, it really is, but right now there are just too many people out there who’d do anything for a paycheck, and I can’t be a part of that force right now.
Terry:I’ve been working since I was ten. I had a pretty lucrative lawn cutting business by the time I was twelve so I could buy school clothes and stuff. We were pretty poor. I feel lucky every day that I was instilled with such a strong work ethic because I believe a strong work ethic plus healthy creative streak equals I can do anything. We have toured for almost ten years and lived like kings—well, our idea of how a king would live—and Rymodee is part of a vegan coffee shop café. I have Sluggo’s and Teddy is working with some folks in San Francisco to open an all ages show space there. We are superheroes.
Scott: Terry, what changes have you seen in the music industry since running a music club in the mid-1990s to now?
Terry: So many disappointments; watching music turn into a giant business that tricks people and destroys the true voice of inspiration. We’ve watched so many of our friends get swallowed up. Kids shouldn’t have to pay ten or fifteen dollars to see their favorite punk bands and CDs shouldn’t cost twenty dollars. Let’s face it, they only cost one dollar to make. It’s utter robbery. We are not a part of that and never will be.
Scott: Well, giant business is not a new thing in the music business, but I guess it is a new thing that has crept into the “underground world” of music that we are involved in. CD costs are insane with no doubt, but I think when all costs are factored in from recording, to packaging, to production, to touring around to sell the CD, it costs a little more than one dollar. Five dollars for a touring band is a very fair price for everyone involved.
Terry: It’s sad, but it has taught me much about the music business. Seeing things from this side for so long and knowing that it doesn’t have to be lavish. Keep it simple and honest. That is what I have learned through the windshield of our tour van.
Scott: In 1959 and 1960 Alan Lomax returned to the South and recorded the traditions of our country. He recorded blues, ballads, hymns, reels, shouts, chanteys, and work songs. In that tradition, suppose you had to gather field recordings from the American South. In the spirit of Alan, where would you all go and who would you record for this project?
Rymo: Were you hoping I’d say he should record us or something? No, I don’t think he’d be interested. There is some limited punk stuff that is interesting in that vein, that isn’t just “fun” or “awesome,” but is unheard and would be considered important in fifty years. I’d stay away from all the punk jug bands, probably. I don’t know. Should I record people doing amazing new things, or doing renditions of folk songs they downloaded on the internet? I don’t know if it would really be appreciated on a true folk circuit. It is not like it was before. Maybe I’d go to some small towns in Mississippi, like the delta, and record freestyle hip hop artists. That would be nice, to see the difference eighty to ninety years has made in the delta dance scene.
Scott: Well, I was not really thinking about you all, but why the heck not? Y’all are just plain folks playing songs for enjoyment and doing what you can to make it through the day. I think that is what I like most about those field recordings. The important thing is that it captured the feelings of these folks and the day they lived in. We all have a story to tell and some tell it through music. Tracy (Scott’s wife) and I recorded some “old timer” relative folks in the Florida Panhandle area. We really wanted to capture some of their music and their talking before they die off. It was amazing! They just sat around at the end of the day, yelled out a key to play the tune in, and they would let loose with music and words.
Rymo: Man, I think about that a lot. There’s nobody sharing songs they heard or writing anything in that style anymore. You can’t go to prisons or small Mississippi towns with a tape recorder and hit paydirt. I think a lot of stuff is good on the streets, though, like some street performers and some one man bands. I think with the idea like Lomax, one would have to wait another thirty years and find some of the original hip hop guys from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s and record them or something. There’s nothing much now.
Scott: Yeah, I agree completely. I would love to hear some of Grandmaster Flash’s (Joseph Saddler) very first experiments with his turntables. Now that was truly groundbreaking and genius back in 1974! I wonder and I bet people thought he was a fool back then.
Terry: Alan Lomax would have a much bigger job today than before in terms of finding the roots music, protest music, and songs of freedom and oppression. He simply had to travel the Mississippi River delta to discover all those beautiful songs and players then. Now he would have to buy a Greyhound Ameripass and travel coast to coast to basements in Seattle and Portland and Kalamazoo, and record stores in Denver and Gainesville, and collectives in St. Louis and Pittsburgh to find the songs of protest now. As the undercurrent of dissent for corporatization and the self-appointed presidential puppet and war and murder for oil grows and gets more vocal, punks and anarchists and every other form of radical are using music as a form of organizing and constituting their communities so their voices can be heard. As the gap between rich and poor gets wider so does the distance ol’ Alan would have to travel.
Scott: Over the years, have you seen gender roles change in your scene?
Rymo: Oh, definitely. At least at a first glance, anyone looking in could see that more and more women are involved and that is really cool. But even deeper than that, women are in bands, in charge of distros, teaching classes, and making this whole thing a community instead of a bunch of dudes in bands.
Scott: Looking back over the years, I liked punk music and the scene because it seemed like it was open to anyone. There was something smart about it. It was nice to hear important topics addressed in a song rather than the stuff on the radio. But I look back and there was no shortage of sexist, homophobic, and racist music that was tolerated in the punk rock scene. I can’t believe some of the lyrics I would hear and I did not question it. I just figured they must be cool people writing and singing. I never thought, “Hey, these are rednecks in disguise wearing the punk rock uniform.” I know things have gotten much better, but do you all see remainders or new breeds of these folks at your shows or in the scene?
Rymo: Not nearly as much as I used to. Not just in mainstream America, but even in the punk scene in the South, nobody was ever shocked or pissed off about homophobia or sexism. I think whenever you don’t understand something, a lot of people’s first reaction is to make fun of it, or even belittle it, and I think the punk scene has, for the most part anyway, jumped a lot of hurdles like that. There is always room for improvement, but I think we are definitely on the right path.
Scott: You all worked with Tim Kerr on your last album (Three Way Tie for a Fifth). The Big Boys are one of my all-time favorite bands. How was it working with Tim Kerr?
Rymo: It was great hanging out with Tim Kerr. We never had anyone want to “produce” our record, and we weren’t really sure what it meant, but it was pretty cool. We butted heads a couple of times, and it got pretty stressful. I can be pretty stubborn, especially when it comes to my songs. He’s a really amazing guy, and we’re all really happy with the record.
Terry: Working with Tim Kerr was an honor and a pleasure. The man is about as sweet as key lime pie and helped us in the kindest but “No, I’m not kiddin’” kind of way. His house is a punk rock museum and he is also a great painter. (He painted the cover of that record.) Hey Scott, remember when we first met Tim Kerr? It was so long ago.
Scott: We met Tim way back? It’s all a fog to me. I remember seeing and meeting him when he was in a band called Bad Mutha Goose back in my skateboarding days. He was tied in with Zorlac skateboards. It is a small world. Tell us about your, and my, good ol’ hometown of Pensacola. Why is it unique?
Rymo: I think we have about three songs from Pensacola. Ted Bundy was caught here and there’s a lot of albino squirrels. It’s a small town, and you know there’s not much going on here, but the people are nice and I love it. But like most towns, it has another side that is not so friendly. A very good ol’ boy side to it. The Pensacola high class have no idea that they are backwards rednecks.
Scott: Earlier, when we were talking about work, you all said something about your restaurants and cafes in Pensacola. Tell me about that.
Rymo: Actually, Terry and I each own separate vegan restaurants. Hers is Sluggo’s which is also one of the main venues in town, and ours is End of the Line, which is also a coffee shop and small venue. It’s really cool. When Terry first reopened Sluggo’s, we were like, “Oh no, we’re doomed! Two vegan restaurants in redneck Pensacola?,” but it works really well. We all love each other’s food and we’re all good friends. We each have our own regular customers and a lot of people love both places. I get really excited just thinking that both of our places are doing well. It gets a little awkward at times, because our two places are kind of spread apart, and sometimes events or planned meals will overlap, but it always seems to work out and we are always excited about what the other restaurant is doing just as much as our own. It’s really fucking sweet.
Scott: Let us know something we don’t know and would not expect from you all?
Rymo: I served in the Air Force for two and a half years as a fireman.
Scott: You were in the Air Force? What is it with the armed forces and great country singers? I’m thinking about Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Rymodee. Elvis wore the uniform as well. That is one extreme to the other for you; going from a point in life where you have to obey authority for honor and country, to a life of writing songs that fight authority and question your country. How does your military experience play in your song writing?
Rymo: Being in the military was probably one of the worst things to ever happen to me. It was really bad times and I was getting into a lot of trouble for my hair length and my childish attitude. But some great things happened to me too. I met some young kids in a punk band. And in Grand Forks, N.D. in 1990 there wasn’t much of that going on. I made some great friends who I am still very close to, to this day. The best thing that ever happened to me ever was I went out and bought a guitar. The military has a lot to do with my songwriting in that aspect alone. In a lot of my songs I try not to seem as though I have the answer, and sometimes I have had to come right out and say, you know, I made a mistake, too. We have a song about our friend who joined the navy and then the next thing you know he’s a fighter pilot. Fuck. But, hey, I joined for the G.I. bill so I could go to college. All along, I knew the military was stupid and I could have been sent to a damn war or something.
Scott: Let’s talk about the unusual touring vehicles you all have had.
Rymo: Our first vehicle was a van that broke down in the middle of Florida and we did the dumbest thing we ever did. We traded it in on a new van.
Scott: Lordy, I do remember that. That is one of those stories that I remember and think back and see how determined you all are. If I can, let me reflect. That was our first U.S. tour and it was going to be two months long. Anyhow, I remember our ol’ Ford Econoline van named Midi that decided to quit just two days into that tour. I remember that like it was yesterday: sitting in the parking lot of a car lot at 12:30 AM in Vero Beach, Fla. We were talking out our options and the idea of buying a new van came up. I thought, “Y’all can’t be serious,” and, “How in the heck would we pull that off?” Then Terry explained a five-year plan for the band and a plan to pay off the new van in that time. Five years flashed in front of my head and I just about had a panic attack. Even though we had surpassed this idea months earlier, I was still in the frame of mind that this was just a spare time band. I remember it clearly. I said, “Count me out. I cannot pay for this. I can’t even pay for a can of beans at this point.” I felt like I was in deep. Well, we got that van somehow and that’s just another story that proves that you all make things happen. Gosh, I remember us searching for a blood bank in Salt Lake City, so we could meet that month’s van payments. That happened to be a tour that Ted did not go on. See what happens when Ted is not there? We had to get a van that wouldn’t break down. Thank God for Ted! Hey Ted, you are quite the auto repairman. How do you keep those touring automobiles going and when did you learn that skill?
Ted: Well, it took me years to have the confidence to tackle auto repair. I think it’s in my blood. When I was nine, I took my bike apart and my parents freaked out. I told them I just needed some part to put it back together. They humored me, and lo and behold, I put it back together. I guess then I realized forever I would fix the world one machine at a time. We have had a lot of busted-ass vans. As the band’s mechanic I have had to fix many Dodges, two Fords—one mini and one full-sized—I fixed an ‘84 Chevy Impala taxi cab, The Ramen Cab, and I think some mini trucks and rental cars as well. My favorite was The Ramen Cab that our friend Skott gave to us when he moved to California. I rebuilt the transmission in my bedroom and we packed it full of our stuff and we piled into the front seat. That’s where “front seat solidarity” came from.
Scott: So tell us about some of those vehicles that came after the new Ford van?
Rymo: We toured in a van with a huge, ugly welded room on the back that looked like the space shuttle or Tennessee. We like to arrive in style and that van had a “Dixie” horn. Shit.
Scott: What was the seller of that van like?
Rymo: We were in kind of a bind, and like usual, it was about a week or two before tour and we didn’t have a van. We were looking at RVs, trucks, classic old RVs, you name it. Terry was driving down some random street on the west side and saw this crazy looking beast of a van with a for sale sign on it and ran and told me. The owner was this old, retired navy man who just one day up and decided to weld an entire back room onto his already huge van. He was a vitamin salesman and right at the last minute after we paid for the van and hopped in, he tried to make us pray and we peeled out.
Scott: I know the origins of the touring taxi, but tell us about the Ramen Cab.
Rymo: Our friend Skott Cowgill obtained an old, used cab and got some professional lettering put on it that said Ramen Cab and he would give people rides for free or for ramen. He moved out to California and left the car to rot. A tour was about to happen in a week or two and Teddy decided he could fix up the cab, if only we could all sit in the front seat. Lots of people started weird rumors, and to this day there are a few people who think we actually paid a cabbie to drive us on tour with the meter running and stuff!
Scott: You all talked about doing a tour on bikes. You planned on carrying the amps and whatever else you would need on a bike-trailer attached to the bike. Have you all done this?
Rymo: Honestly, I can’t imagine the band ever breaking up until we do that bike tour. At the time we thought of it, we had never heard of anyone doing a tour on their bikes, but there is a band called Bicycle and they have been doing that for years. There was this band called Dead Things who have done it also. I still really, really want to do that.
Scott: Well, if you all still want to do it, I will put big money down that you do it before it’s all said and done. What are some ups and downs of touring you all have faced?
Ted:Alaska was amazing. We brought Tate and Craig D with us. The van kept breaking down, so I stayed busy. I had to put a used transmission in at a lodge we played. I did this in the parking lot. As soon as I finished, we drove fifty hours straight to Elkford, Canada only to miss our show by half an hour. We woke up the next day and played to some kids at 10 AM. We’ve seen so much of America. We have seen lots of swimming holes and punk houses. We have seen the Grand Canyon, rooftops, junkyards, mountains. You get the picture.
Rymo: One of the biggest ups for me, and I’ve said this often, is we weren’t very popular in our hometown but we would go to some odd, tiny town in the middle of nowhere and kids we never met were singing along to our songs. They were just really excited that we made it to their town. I could have stopped playing right then and there, you know. I think that’s all I ever wanted. Probably the coolest thing that ever happened to us on tour was when we played an Indian reservation, we’ve played a few, but we played in Chinle, Az. and went to their canyon instead of the Grand Canyon. It was called the Canyon de Chelly and these Navajo punks took us down there and told us all the legends of the Anasazi and all the history of the land. It was really quite amazing.
Scott: Not many bands get that kind of experience.
Rymo: Some of the downers are the arguments you get into on the road with your best friends over the stupidest things.
Scott: What social concerns do you all address as a band?
Ted: Well, my biggest concern is the general public’s ability to believe everything the media and the government tells them. I’m not saying we all need to revolt, but it’s time we join in on the decision making in this country. Go to a city council meeting. Send letters to government officials about your concerns. Stop supporting media-controlling businesses. Basically, start doing what is right, not what you are told.
Rymo: A lot of young kids go to our shows, like fifteen to twenty-year-olds, but there are a lot of people our age, like thirty to forty. I honestly think the best thing I can offer them is letting them know that you can still do this and have fun. Do something different at our age, not that we’re that old. The kids are always like, “Whoa, you could be our parents. That’s so cool!”
Scott: What motivates you all to be in the band this long?
Ted: Touring Alaska.
Rymo: For me, it’s all I can do. Plus it’s what I wanted to do with my life when I was a kid. You know, just play dumb ass songs even when you’re old and nobody cares anymore. I get pretty motivated by Terry and Ted. Really, we are a pretty funny outfit. I like being around you guys.
Scott: We have talked about a culture close to our hearts. Care to take a poke at popular culture?
Rymo: Pop music is just a button to push, you know? I got a standard answer about pop music. It just sucks, and nobody wants it any different, instead of just figuring out how you yourself want it to be or how you could change it. I do get excited about pop culture every now and then. I think about movies that are about how sad everyone is and they don’t even know it, like Fight Clubor American Beauty. To me, they seem like they are trying to wake up Americans and I like that.
Scott: I think I know what you’re saying. Yeah, take what you can get. But we are in sad state of affairs when we need a wake-up call from Hollywood.
Rymo: I know I just sound like an old, jaded guy all the time. But, seriously, nobody is interested in what happened in their own “scene” or culture or family or even their own town, like five, ten years ago. I bet the only scene left to “discover” America’s new music would be stuff on subways. You know, people playing songs for spare change. You’ll hear the best sounds like that.
Scott: I sometimes think the best music or band is one I’ll never hear. They’re deep in the forest playing right now. I can’t hear it, but that does not mean it’s not being played.
Ted: I’ve recently realized that music works in cycles. As I get old, I hear the radio and say, “This shit sucks.” Then I listen to the oldies station and realize, that old shit was just as dumb as the new shit. I think as the population grows there are just more people willing to listen to crap. The underground will always be the underground and in cycles it becomes pop. That way, us punks can always be bitter.
Scott: As of now, what music brings you joy?
Ted: Tough question. There are a lot of bands that we play with on the road. That is about the only new music I know. I’ll just name a few: Carrie Nations, Allergic To Bullshit, Shotwell, The Bananas, Sexy, Grabass Charlestons, One Reason, the Visitations, the Can Kickers, o Madeline, Japanther, R3, AC/DC, David Dondero…
Scott: You all played with AC/DC? Any final words?
Terry: If any one can book a show for us in Vermont, New Hampshire, or Hawaii. Those are the only states we haven’t played.