THE NEW ALIBIS
by Kevin Finn
The New Alibis are
a new band, but given each member’s pedigree, it’s easy to forget
that. It’s also easy to make assumptions about what they sound like.
Punk rock? Sure, that’s in the mix, but the New Alibis aren’t a
band that believes music began and ended in 1977. Check out either of
their stellar EPs, and you’ll also be treated to touches of glam,
arena, and straight ahead rock ’n’ roll, all delivered with the
heart and honesty that has always been at punk’s core. Singer/ guitarist
Drew Suxx (ex-Lost City Angels), guitarist Paul Christian (ex-Far From
Finished), bassist Julie TwoTimes (ex-Three Sheets) and drummer Jesse
Von Kenmore (the Marvels) sat down with us at the Middle East to discuss
the band’s history, their views on the music industry, the WBCN Rumble,
and their new EP, Hard
Noise: Tell me a little a bit about howthe New Alibis
came into existence.
Jesse: It’s hard for me being in a band, but it’s
hell not being in one. When the Pug Uglies ended, I got really depressed.
Paul had left Far From Finished, so I called him and we started playing
together and got Julie. Drew was one of the first people we thought
of, but we didn’t know how to find him. We auditioned a bunch of people,
but it wasn’t clicking. I called Lost City Angel’s old drummer,
Adam Shaw, and he said Drew should really be in a band. I called him
up. He was down. He walked in. Boom. We clicked.
Drew: I was in a bad place upstairs and didn’t
want to go back to my standard ways of dealing with that. I came to
practice one day with these guys, and I really loved the tunes and the
energy in the room. Everyone came from that same place where music was
kind of damaging in a way. We found a place where we could heal a little
bit musically within each other.
Paul: We all came from situations where the intensity
of trying to chase the carrot, chase the gold, was the whole point behind
the band. We do this because we love doing it, not because we want to
become rock stars. Just enjoy the moment and enjoy the fun. It’s not
to say that we don’t want to go out and do the hard work because that’s
part of it, but it’s to say that we want to work smart and be more
selective about it.
Noise: Drew and Paul toured like hell in the past.
I take it you’re done with that.
Drew: That lifestyle is really, really difficult.
It eats away at you after a while. The reason LCA stopped is that we
could either save some semblance of a friendship or we could keep going
and completely destroy ourselves. You get to that level where you keep
pushing and pushing and you forget that you have personal lives. You
have this egotistical view that your band is the cure for cancer. We
have to keep going! There’s this big answer out there! But it’s
Paul: You’re always just chasing the oasis. You
always see greener pastures at that next step. You never get there.
Drew: Sometimes you do get there and you don’t
like what it is. You just hate it for what it isn’t.
Paul: We’re taking what has been the mainstream
model for bands and chucking it out the window because we feel that
doesn’t work anymore. The way that information is transferred now
is so different. Those old models don’t work.
Jesse: We would love to do a big budget LP, but
right now it doesn’t make sense for us. We want to go back to that
original way rock ’n’ roll started, get into the studio a lot, keep
writing, keep moving. We don’t want to wait eighteen months to record
and then drive around in a van losing our minds, unable to stand each
other, playing that fucking record for eighteen months.
Noise: You played the Rumble this year. A lot of
people poke fun at it, but I’ve always enjoyed it.
Jesse: That’s because they weren’t invited.
Julie: It made us a much better live band. It really
made us focus. We’ve seen people play Rumbles before and thought,
wow that was an awesome live set. We knew we could do a lot better.
It really got to the point where, and it sounds so cliché, but really
when we played that night, we didn’t care if we won because we had
such a good time. We were really pumped. We were like, you know what,
we can put that show on anytime we want.
Jesse: I’ve been in bands in Boston for at least
twenty-five years, and whatever band I’m in, I want it to be really
entertaining. I want it to be exciting. I want it to play as well as
a touring band live, but that’s hard to do when you’re not playing
a show every night.
A live show should
be like a street fight. You come out and punch the fuck out of them
for three or four songs, let íem come up for air for a second, then
stand on their neck, let them up again, do something a little more gentle,
then start really beating the crap out of ’em and let ’em rest one
more time, a few uppercuts, pick up a chair, hit ’em with that and
they’ll stay down. That’s the way a live show should be.
I’ve played four
Rumbles. This year was really special. It was the right bands, the right
time, the right club. There truly was a sense of respect and camaraderie.
Every night I was there, the place was packed with people from other
bands and with people just wanting to see what was going on. It was
just an awesome year.
There’s nothing more
boring than going to see four street punk bands or four rockabilly bands
or four shoegazer bands. Seeing Gene Dante and the Luxury and the Dirty
Truckers just all go out and murder shit was glorious. That’s truly
more punk rock than saying you must wear this hat and have that anchor
tattoo. You can’t talk to the people over there with the bangs and
the lip rings. The guy with the ironic sweater, I don’t know about
him. He looks a little Q Division to me, so fuck him. Those kinds of
walls seem to be breaking down. I hope it continues to go that way.
Noise: I seem to remember Gene Dante being followed
directly by Destruct-A-Thon the night I went. There might have been
one act in between. They were so different, but both so awesome. As
a fan, I’d rather see a lineup with varied acts like that. Half the
time if you have four punk bands, it’s just varying quality as the
night goes on.
Paul: I think this gets back to the survivability
of the scene. I’ve been amazed at these different genres coming together,
creating these shows and making a community again. If we donít have
that, it’s going to evaporate. We don’t all have to be from the
same little group to play together.
Jesse: When you see events like the one Nicole Tammaro
put on, DropYa Mic and Pick Up Yer Paintbrush, you realize this is a
great place to live. There are tremendously talented people here like
Amy Toxic, like Mike Byrne, like Ian Adams. After Nicole’s show and
I had this weird feeling. I went to Hampshire College, a very artsy
school, and I was kind of like, wow, it’s like I never left college.
At first I beat myself up over it, but then I thought, what a fucking
fabulous way to live. Why should you ever leave that? Why should you
stop being interested in art? Why limit yourself? What are you going
to do? Go to work, come home and watch fucking TV. I mean that might
be alright for some people, but I ain’t feeling that.
Noise: What can you tell me about the new six-song
Jesse: That we’re really proud of it.
Drew: I’ve never been happier with a recording.
Jesse: We’re not into writing the same songs over
and over again. There’s fast stuff, slow stuff, garage-y stuff, street
punk-y stuff, the more Social D kind of stuff. It’s all on there.
Noise: Are these all songs you’ve been playing
Jesse: Yup, well, not “Hard Promises.”
Julie: We played it twice. I think that’s what
weíre going to end up naming the EP, which is kind of funny because
it’s not one of the ones we’ve been playing live, but it sounds
Paul: It’s a very heartfelt and very true story.
Drew: There were a lot of relationship issues going
on when this band started. A lot of that stuff was still resonating
when we were writing for the record.
Jesse: I didn’t realize how much this record fucked
me up to make. On the first EP, I was writing songs about being in a
punk rock band and writing songs about a long dead relationship that
I was thoroughly over. But this one was real here and now stuff. My
demons are all over this fucking record. Nobody’s going to listen
to it and go, oh, this is about Jesse, but hopefully, it’s done in
a way that other people can identify with.
Noise: How are the songwriting duties handled?
Jesse: It’s different from song to song. Once
a song gets brought in, the band then takes ownership of it. It’s
not going to sound like it sounds without the band whether we wrote
it on an acoustic guitar with a notebook at the kitchen table, like
Drew and I did on “Hard Promises” and “Other Side” or if it
was brought in as a full piece like Drew did with “Against the World”
or “Dragged.” “Going Through the Motions,” that was Julie’s
set of lyrics.
Drew: Everybody has to have input. That’s what
creates that band’s unique sound. It’s like Voltron. You can’t
just have an arm or a leg. You’ve got to have it all together to work.
Noise: That’s an interesting analogy. That’s
pretty much all I have. Anything you guys want to add?
Drew: We’re doing a CD release show July 10th
upstairs at The Middle East with Razors in the Night, Have Nots, and
Jesse: You can also see us at P-Town Rocks at the
end of July. Martin has taken a lot of shit on the Noiseboard for this,
but this is such a ballsy thing for him to do. It is in everybody’s
best interest that this survives. To be able to go down to a community
like P-Town and hang out with your friends for three or four days in
the middle of the summer and play rock ’n’ roll shows, how anybody
can have a problem with that is beyond me. It’s really easy for people
to take potshots at people who are making an effort to do something.
Paul: And forgetting about how much work there
is behind it.
Jesse: There’s always been that kind of thing
around bands. There are bands that almost as an excuse say that it’s
just a good time, that they’re not really trying and it doesn’t
mean anything to them. Why are you on stage then? Stay in your fucking
P-Town Rocks is going
to be a blast. We figured, fuck it, win, lose or draw, we’re down
in P-Town for three days wearing tight Manowar shirts and playing rock