ALL – Mass Nerder – Interview


Mass Nerder (Epitaph)
An interview with Chad Price
by Scott Hefflon

I’m one of those dorks that wants to ask you far too many questions about similarities and differences throughout the history of ALL, from Dave Smalley to Scott Reynolds to you, and then compare that with early Descendents vs. the “new” Descendents… Do you get that a lot?
Uh, well, yeah. Sometimes.

We’re kinda like Star Trek geeks or X-Files junkies who read far too much into stuff, seeing themes and parallels and inconsistencies…
Yeah, right.

Like, “I bet this song was written at the same time as this one, but it appears on a different album with a different singer. The theme is the same, man, it’s got the same vibe…”
Yeah, you add in that eight different people have been writing songs for this whole time…

You guys fall in love, experience heartache and longing, then reminisces – repeat process – more times than any other group of human beings I can think of.
Either that or it’s only happened once and we just keep writing about it, over and over.

Man, that’d be really sad if y’all were pining away for that same one girl all this time.
Like, “Get over it, will ya?!?”

Are some of the songs about the same people?
Yeah, for sure. I don’t really want to name names…

But on Pummel, you wrote a song called “Miranda.” Is that her real name?
Uh, yeah. I guess as a general rule, you should stay away from naming names. But yeah, I was just, um… shit. I guess I was so smitten. I got over it.

I asked Milo this same question when I interviewed him (issue 30): Do you have trouble singing certain songs because they bring back certain memories you might not want to deal with at that exact moment?
Not really. When I first joined the band, I kinda had to step in and put all this feeling into songs I’d never sung before, songs I had nothing to do with.

Did you know the guys before you joined ALL?
Yeah, I’d met them when they lived in Missouri for a brief time. I’m from Kansas City.

But you weren’t close with them? You didn’t know the people they were writing about?
No. I had no idea. I was acting, basically. But like an actor, you try to keep with the emotion, time after time, and that can be really hard to do when you’re on the road for months. But you get out there in front of everyone, and you try to put on a good show.

Aren’t you just digging up the same painful memory over and over again? I mean, it’s one thing to write the song, it’s another to go into the studio and record it, but to go out on the road and do it again and again and again…
Actually, once I get out of the studio, I’m just glad I’m not singing it in the studio anymore. I’m like, shit, I’ll sing this song for the rest of my life, and that’s fine, as long as I don’t have to record it again.

Why’s that?
Well, you just get so picky and so anal about the way the song’s coming out, you end up singing the same song 50-60 times a day for two weeks, just to get it right.

You’re working with two of the best, most celebrated producers in the punkpop industry (Bill Stevenson and Stephen Egerton, natch) – they’re pretty demanding, huh?
Oh yeah. When I joined this band, I thought I could sing. But when we recorded Breaking Things, I soon found out that I had no idea how to sing.

You had this natural ability, and were like, “Yup, sure, I’m a singer.”
Yeah, sure, I’m great, let me in there. By the end of the day, I’m ready to kill myself. I’m like, “Why’d you guys pick me? I can’t do this.”

I just started the CD over again (yes, I play the CD while interviewing the band), and I’m listening to “World on Heroin,” a great fuckin’ song. Was it hard for you to walk into ALL with the whole ALLogistic philosophy?
No, I was full into it. I was a big Descendents and ALL fan, so I was right along with it the whole way.

This is actually the first time you guys have brought up the ALL beliefs in quite some time; achieving ALL you can be, questing to fulfill your potential, and ALL that.
I believe you may be right.

I, um, I’m kinda caffeinated out of my head right now, and you really aren’t saying a whole helluva lot…
I don’t talk a whole lot. And we’re all sick right now. We just go back from a little tour with Hagfish and Zeke, had a couple Warped tour shows… We have a week off, then were doing another couple weeks of Warped tour shows. Zeke is one of our favorite bands. When they played, we’d be in the front row, and when we played, they’d be in the front row. It was cool.

That’s as ALL. Does Milo ever pop in for a show here or there?
Whenever we play near Madison, Wisconsin, he’ll always show up and sing encores.

Do you do that when Descendents tour? Despite the fact that you’re playing with Armchair Martian?
Yeah, I was on tour with Armchair for a while, and if we just happened to be in the same town as the Descendents, they’d have me do some stuff.

Kinda like a bonus package for the people at those shows.
You could say that.

Your voice and Milo’s work so well together (“I’ll Get There” plays in the background). How old are you?

Shiiit. You’ve worked with some amazing people and done some really great stuff for a 26-year-old dude.
Yeah, I lucked out. I got snagged pretty young. I think I was 20 or 21.

So you got picked up by ALL right after you started. I have the ALL Family Shrub memorized (sans typos and omissions); did Appletree record anything?
Not anything you could get, probably. And maybe not anything you would want.

Why’s that? I’m one of those dorks that’s collected anything you guys even looked at funny. Yup, I even have TonyALL.
Oh man!

That’s got a couple good songs on it. “Couple” meaning two.
“Guitar Case.”

Yup, and, um, shit… Oh yeah, “Casual Girl.”
I hope Tony (Lombardo) doesn’t get a hold of this interview.

Hell, we all make mistakes.
But that was a cool thing. Tony had some extra songs, and he wasn’t doing anything, so came in and said, “Hey, you guys want to record my songs?” And they’re like, “Sure.”

That’s the wild thing. You guys do so much, sometimes releasing an EP and an album in the same year, or a live record and an album… Then sometimes you don’t release anything for years.
Yeah, after Breaking Things, we toured so hard. When we got back, we took a break, then we wrote songs, practiced them, then recorded them.

You aren’t a permanent member of Armchair Martian, are you?
No, I was just filling in. What’s odd is I was the second bassist out of three in a row from Kansas City who played in that band. We were all friends.

Are they from Kansas City?
Originally, yes, but I didn’t meet them until I moved to Fort Collins, Colorado.

Did you move to Fort Collins when you joined ALL?
No, when I joined ALL, they lived in Brookfield, Missouri. I lived with them there for about a year or so. I mean, that town is population 4,000, so after a couple months, you’re ready to move. And we all really dug Fort Collins. We’d toured through here, we all had friends here, and the town’s really nice.

It’s predominantly a college town, right?
Pretty much, yeah.

I mean, there’s like nothing there but the college, right?
That’s it.

So how’d you hook up with Armchair Martian?
Well, their bass player at the time decided that he’d had enough, so he moved back to Kansas City. It just so happened that it was the same time the Descendents started touring. I’ve become really good friend with the guys, and shit, I wasn’t going to be doing anything for a year… and a half… two years, as it turned out.

Isn’t that weird? To be in ALL, yet not doing anything for so long?
Yeah, at first I was like, “Cool, time off.” But after nine, ten, twelve months, I was like, “Jeez, come on!” By the time we finally started practicing, I had no idea what I was doing anymore.

What do you do with down time?
I… Well, I don’t do a lot. I watch a lot of TV, go to bars, play pool…

Are you married?

So you can still fall in love, fall out of love, have your heart broken a few times in your down time. Research, right?
Sure, yeah.

As long as it doesn’t get in the way of your watching TV.
Right, that’s my main priority: television.

What’s your involvement in Owned & Operated Records?
I’m part owner…. I don’t know much about running a label.

Do the other guys in the band?
Not a whole lot.

But Joe Carducci (writer, ex-co-owner of SST) does…
So does Joe Young (ex-C/Z). So those two handle the shit we don’t know about.

Does Carducci live in Fort Collins?
No, but he lives close, in Wyoming. It’s about an hour and a half away. He does his part of the work from his home. We all have a hand in choosing bands and stuff.

Isn’t your other band, Drag the River, going to be on O&O;?
Yeah, if I can ever get my shit together.

What’s the scoop? What style is it? Who’s in the band?
It’s pretty much me and Jon, the singer from Armchair Martian…

It’s just you two?
It’s not like we’re a two-man band, but we’ve played out that way before. The recording is us just grabbing people and having them play a part. We play the song for them a few times, and hopefully they get it. Pretty much everyone on the record except for Jon and me didn’t know what the hell was going on. Bill played drums on a song or two, Paul from Armchair played drums on some, Jason from Wretch Like Me played drums on some, we stole the guitar players from Wretch Like Me (Trevor and Roy) – it’s just a mass of people.

But no Abe (from Wretch Like Me) or Milo (Descendents, duh) doing back-up vocals?
No. I asked Abe, but he told me to go to hell. It’s, ahem, it’s kinda country…

Um, what?
Well, yeah. It’s kinda country rock, I guess.

Has Armchair Martian always had that country thing going on?
They’ve always had that influence, and live they’d always pull off something like that, but on their first record, I think they tried to steer clear of it.

On Monsters Always Scream, the Armchair EP you played on, “Retardent – Jig” is pretty damn country.
Actually, that was a Drag the River song. So that kinda shows you what Drag the River is like. But we didn’t distort the guitar. We’re kinda like Wilco, maybe, or Uncle Tupelo.

Did you listen to a lot of country music growing up?
In Missouri? Hell yeah.

Was it because you didn’t know any better, or did you actually like the music?
I guess it was forced on me. When I was little, I would do anything to get away from it. But as I got older, my older brother would always be listening to Hank Williams Jr. or AC/DC. I grew to love both of them.

Is your home still like that, or is it more diversified now?
Shit, I really don’t know. It’s been a while since I’ve been back.

You’ve traveled the country and the world. You grew up on country and that helped shape who you are today; does it weird you out that there are people growing up on what you’re doing?
Actually, you just weirded me out, because I never really thought about people growing up on what I do. I mean, I know it in the back of my mind, but I never think about it. It’s weird to think that, like, we’re the same to someone as, like, Hank Williams or the Beatles were to me.

AC/DC, to me, is mass consciousness. If you grew up in America, you grew up on AC/DC.
For sure. Yeah, it’s really weird to have someone say they grew up on you. It’s like, fuck, I’m not even grown up yet.

Right on. You’ve been in ALL for a little over five years, and you’ve put out three records, so there could well be people bonding hardcore with what you’re singing, that get through the day with your voice in their head, with your words on their lips… Screw it, just go watch TV and don’t think too hard about this shit. It’ll make you all self-conscious and nervous.
Yeah, just a few days ago on the Warped tour, a few people came up to me and said, “Dude, you guys are the best fuckin’ band in the world.” That’s crazy.

And you say thanks, but you know you’re just a bunch of hopeless romantic dorks who love to play music and have fun.
Shit, man, I just like to go on the road and pick up on chicks and stuff… I’m too nervous to talk to them but maybe they’ll come and talk to me… And then someone says something like that
(2798 Sunset Blvd. Hollywood, CA 90026)