RAZORS IN THE NIGHT
by Kevin Finn
A few years ago, a wise friend told me, “I didn’t realize street punk was supposed to be about being Irish. I thought it was supposed to be about having fun.” He then proceeded to sing the praises of a new band he had seen who exuded the type of pure, aggressive joy that can only be found in the best of hardcore bands. That band was Razors in the Night. Intrigued, I picked up their Carry On! EP and went to see them play the first chance I got. I was not disappointed. I loved the record, and Razors quickly became one of my favorite live acts in town. Perhaps I should listen to my friends more often.
On the heels of the upcoming release of their blistering new full-length, Never Give In, Troy (lead vocals) and Swid (bass) sat down with me at the Model Café to talk about the record, touring and what makes a great live show.
Noise: Let’s kick things off by talking about the new record, Never Give In.
Troy: We recorded it with Dean Baltulonis. He’s known for American Nightmare, Madball, Agnostic Front. When we heard he was interested in doing the record, I had a boner for weeks. To say we recorded with Dean, we didn’t just go to a studio. He took us to some abandoned textile factory in New Hampshire. He had Caleb record some drums in an elevator shaft with no lights. It was pretty creepy, but it sounds awesome.
Noise: How would you say the songs differ from those on Carry On!?
Swid: A little more diverse, a little more mature. We were able to flesh things out more. I think Carry On! had range, but this one goes from really heavy to really song-driven. We also had more of an ability to do things in the studio, whereas last time it was like let’s just bang this out as quickly as we can.
Noise: “Out of Touch” and “These Streets” sound a lot different than what people might expect. “These Streets” has almost a straight rock ’n’ roll feel to it.
Troy: That was a hard one for me. I had to actually sing a little bit.
Swid: I had the riffs on that sitting around forever. I never knew what to do with it.
Troy: He was like, “What do you guys think? I know it’s not totally Razors stuff.” But I listen to everything. I had jury duty, and I was listening to it over and over. I was like, man, I can really feel this. The thing that sold me was the guitar solo. My hairs were standing on end. I was determined to make it work. It’s good to be challenged. I could stay in my comfort zone all the time and sound like Cookie Monster. But I really, really wanted to do it and I pushed it.
Noise: You’ve got a few different labels putting out the record and all sorts of crazy vinyl. The swamp green with the double-mint splatter sounds cool. Is it important to you guys to put out vinyl?
Troy: Yeah, I’m a big vinyl collector. No matter what, there’s going to be digital download, but you’ve also got this special, tangible thing. The new record’s got this sick collage of all these cool pictures we’ve done over the years. Swid did all the artwork. We put a lot of effort into it.
Swid: It’s cheesy, but I always say listening to vinyl, as opposed to listening any other way, is more about the music. You put something on and you’re in it for the long haul. It’s not just background noise. You focus on it and actually listen to it. With iPods and everything we don’t spend a lot of time actively listening to music these days.
Noise: I think that’s true. When I listen to vinyl, it’s in my living room. You’re not on the T or just trying to give yourself some background music to distract you at work.
Troy: I love breaking out a record. The first thing I do is I put it on the record player, and I turn the volume off. You can hear the drums in the needle. That’s so cool. Then I’ll play the record and go through all the liner notes. I’ll look at all the songs and see who they thank and what they use. I’ll totally nerd out on a record until it’s done.
Noise: I read that in Europe you generally do a lot better job selling music and selling merch. Why do you think that’s the case?
Swid: People love Boston punk and hardcore over there. I think a lot of bands would do really well if they went over there. We’re a little spoiled and saturated here. Over there, it’s way more special to them.
Troy: Also, people around here already have all our stuff. We don’t play nearly as much around here as we used to. We try to go where people haven’t seen us, where there is a demand. Your friends are only going to go out and see you play so many times a month.
Swid: I read something on FaceBook about promising Boston bands and how they never go on to do anything. That’s because they never go anywhere. If you just play Boston, of course you’re not going to get anywhere with it. You have to get out there. People aren’t going to come to you.
Noise: Speaking of which, you’re planning on taking the show on the road in January. Where are you headed?
Troy: East Germany, Prague, The Netherlands, which we haven’t been to yet, Belgium, which we haven’t been to yet and France, which is our second-biggest market. We’ll fly into Berlin, go all the way through Europe, play the last show in Paris and then fly back to the United States.
Noise: When you tour, do you actually get to experience the areas at all?
Troy: It’s hard. I really go out of my way if we actually have any time to visit stuff. In Munich, we had the day off so I took a 13-hour tour, all the different sites, all the battlements that were destroyed. I saw everything. I was exhausted, but it was so worth it.
Swid: Otherwise, it’s a lot of time in the van, a lot of time in the bar, a lot of time waiting.
Troy: A lot of time farting and making up stupid songs.
Noise: How big do the crowds get over there?
Swid: They are all pretty packed. We played a festival for our last show in Munich. That was pretty big.
Noise: Does it feel different playing for that big a crowd, or do you end up treating at the same?
Troy: When you’re on tour, you become a professional. It’s your job to do these things. I think we’ve become a lot more comfortable as a band playing bigger places like that. But it’s still kind of weird for me to play the big shows. We grew up on basement shows, and I like being on the same level as the audience because that’s who we are there for. I always try to get down with our people who want to sing along and stuff. I feel more comfortable with them.
Noise: Speaking of the live show, I think the records are great, but that’s where you really stand out. You mentioned how bringing the show to the crowd does really draw people in.
Troy: It draws me in. I feel like we’re doing this together. We can energize each other. Everyone is paying to come and see a show. If they aren’t getting involved, I feel like they aren’t getting their money’s worth. They’re not going to be able to blow off as much steam and have a positive experience. If they’re involved and up front and like, fuck it, for this half an hour I’m going to let loose, then I feel good.
Noise: It definitely works. One of my favorite local shows ever was you guys and Tijuana Sweetheart at the Rosebud a couple of years ago. I was back in the awkward guy corner by the pool table, and you made it all the way out there. It was kind of cool. It made for a feeling of inclusiveness.
Swid: I think every corner is awkward in that place.
Noise: I meant I was bringing the awkwardness, not the corner. There’s nowhere to hide in that place.
Troy: I try to involve everybody. I always try to find the really shy person and go up to them. It’s just to show them that we’re only there to have a good time.
Noise: That’s pretty much all I have. Is there anything you guys want to add?
Troy: I think people should go to shows and have a good time. I don’t like going to shows where everyone is looking at you, and you feel intimidated. I think everyone should be welcoming. Let’s fight this fight together instead of going into shows and being like, “I don’t know these people. They look like they want to beat me up.” These should be my brothers and sisters. We’re all in the same boat.
Noise: Agreed, and that’s a great note to end on. Thanks, guys.