Live Forever or Die Trying (Epitaph)
An interview with vocalist Scott Drake
by Scott Hefflon
Your Epitaph debut, Live Forever or Die Trying, comes out in early 1996, what’ve you released before this?
We’ve had two albums out on Sympathy and one on a small, L.A. label called Mean Dog. It’s the only thing Mean Dog ever released, so good luck finding that one.
I was reading about your getting signed in Yugoslavia?
About five years ago, I was in a band called the Suicide Kings. Phil Wahl, who’s brother is Jon from Claw Hammer, was corresponding and trading tapes with a guy in Yugoslavia. He liked the tape and wanted to put out a Suicide Kings album. By the time we got it all worked out, that band was defunct, and I was starting The Humpers. So he released a Humpers’ album. Our first album was recorded before we’d ever played a gig.
Were any Humpers in Suicide Kings?
The old guitarist, but he quit the band about a year and a half ago. So the drummer and I are the only original members.
Where’d the other guys come from?
Two are guys from Long Beach who weren’t in gigging bands, and Mark we picked up on tour in Iowa. He was playing with Nuns with Guns, and they were breaking up. We asked him to jump in the van and he did. We finished the last half of the tour with him. He was a fan so he already knew the songs. We met him one day, and the next night he was playing with us.
A lot of the songs on Live Forever… were rerecorded from older albums, right?
Yeah, there’re 17 songs on the new album. Six of them were on other albums, a few were on singles, and seven of them haven’t been released yet. It’s a mixed bag. The distribution of the other albums was so small, we figured why let good songs disappear?
You have some guest appearances…
Jon from Claw Hammer plays saxophone on a couple songs, and Andy from Epitaph plays piano on a few of ’em.
Your sound is rather old New York punk, but you grew up in L.A.?
I grew up in L.A. listening to late ’70s, early ’80s stuff like Black Flag, X, and the Germs. If people buy the album thinking we sound like Johnny Thunders, I think they’ll be disappointed. We’re a lot faster and harder. New York punk was a traditional American rock ‘n’ roll sound, and I think we sound like an American punk rock band. Most of the bands from that era came from New York.
Any big smash hits on the album?
I like all the songs on the new album. The people at Epitaph think the first song “Wake Up and Lose” is the “big hit,” but whatever. That’s the one we’re doing the video for.
Is this the first interview for the album?
I’ve done a few, but nothing in-depth…
Right, like I’m probing deeply here…
You’d be surprised by some of the interviews… “So, what are your names?” Stuff you can get from the bio. They don’t even ask about the music. They ask about our personal lives, what are our politics…
Out of curiosity, what do you drink?
Whatever they’ll give us, I guess. I generally like brown liquor. We’re having Humpers’ Extra Stout brewed as we speak. Our friend Ed Perry is doing it as a promotional thing.
Who are a few of the bands you tour with, hang with, respect?
The Candy Snatchers, from Virginia, are our brother band. Around L.A., we like to play with Lazy Cowgirls, The Bottom Feeders, and a new band coming up called Throw Rag. I really like The Satans, from Texas. They’re like 19 or 20, doing Pagans’ covers and really straightforward garage rock ‘n’ roll.
You just don’t steal their members like you did with Mark.
We just recycled him.
Last question: What embarrassing albums do you listen to? We all have ABBA or Barry Manilow tucked in the back…
Oh, I’ve got a lot worse than that! I have a two-month-old son, and my wife got him this Songs from the Womb tape. It’s nursery rhymes with piano, like “Go to sleep, ding-ding-ding” but with this really loud, squishy heartbeat going lub-dub, lub-dub. My kid’s in the other room and I’m lying there listening to it myself. It’s my new favorite album. I think our next album will have our regular songs with this big lub-dub, lub-dub under it.