Interview with Mark Hunter, frontman of Chimaria


Chimaria exploded onto the metal scene and through the tumultuous times stood strong. Hunter explains, "We're the kids that aren't allowed to play on the playground. We've always set out to do our own thing. The fact that we push ourselves and make different kinds of records all the time and still stay true to who we were when we started, I think that's why our fans are so loyal."

And so it is that Resurrection (released in 2007) was born with their hardest hitting masterpieces, shattering glass ceilings. "I just want to go out and have fun with it and see the reaction for ourselves. We're humbled now. Compared to maybe where we were two albums ago,” Hunter laughs.

I got to Interview Chimaria frontman, Mark Hunter, and find out what it takes to persevere in this business.

My first interview with you was back when you did the 'God Hates Us All' tour with Slayer. How do you feel your band has evolved musically since then?

Mark: I feel when we did that tour we really didn't know what the hell we were doing. We only had a few concerts under our belt, our music was immature and so were we as individuals. Touring with Slayer was the best thing that could have happened to us because we learned pretty much everything from them--Stage show, to over all professionalism. We learned how to treat support bands and we could see what it took to last in this business. We were also so excited about hearing those songs every night that we set out to make sure we made the best possible music we could from then on.

What's been your favorite tour to date?

Mark: It's really hard to say, each tour has something special. I think we would probably all agree that either Ozzfest 2003, or the Jager tour with Slipknot were our favorites.

Do you guys eat a lot of bacon on tour?

Mark: Bacon is life.

Do you see a lot of your fans with your name tattooed on them?

Mark: can see a ton of photos up there.

How does networking play into the success of your band?

Mark: I'm not sure it does, other than using the internet as a tool...Our fans spread the word, and our record label does the rest.

You've come to have a reputation of being down to earth and not taking yourselves too seriously. Whose idea was the webisodes on Chimaira tube/ how did it evolve?

Mark: It was my idea. I noticed Youtube was starting to become popular and you could pretty much make your own TV show...People love watching us for some reason, so I figured it would be fun for us and our fans.

Last time I interviewed you, you expressed that switching labels was a dream come true. How has it been since?

Mark: A dream come true. Ferret really believes in this band and so far Resurrection is on the path to being the most successful Chimaira record to date.

Tell us about a milestone you’ve reached as a band.

Mark: Each day we are still doing this is a blessing, and the fact that we don't have to work in between tours or records was everyone’s goal.

How would you describe your new album?

Mark: The best thing since the last Borknagar record.

Did you guys have a hand in conceptualizing the rendering of the Chimaira on the album art?

Mark: Chris and I work with artists that we hire. We are very hands on with every aspect of this band.

What's your favorite song on the new album and why?

Mark: Six, every member contributed a lot to it... first song since Implements of Destruction that we all teamed up like this.

Who is "Morgoth the Impaler?"

Mark: I feel if I tried to describe him with words my computer would explode.

Interview by Roya Butler.


Interview with Mindset


With their music self-described fast, old school hardcore. Mindset definitely sticks to their roots by playing hardcore the way it was meant to be played—raw, angst-ridden, brash, and unapologetic. Mindset is a band that doesn’t back down. Growing up in Maryland, they’ve been playing straightedge hardcore for the past two years. I got a chance to ask Mindset guitarist, Drug-free Mike, questions about their lifestyle, background, and future aspirations.

Give us some background info on the band.

Mike: Well basically, we are 4 best friends who grew up together in Maryland. We came together after a slew of lineup changes but it seems like the dust has finally settled. You can count on seeing our current lineup for a while.

How long have you been playing?

Mike: The band played its first show a little over 2 years ago.

How would you describe your music?

Mike: I would describe our music as fast, old school hardcore. We definitely try to stay away from newer styles of hardcore and stick to what we like to listen to personally. I think we throw in some early 80's hardcore influence as well.

What's your current lineup?

Lightnin' Ev-Vocals
Drug Free Mike C-Guitar

Name some of your favorite local bands.

Mike: In MD, I really like Bad Habit, Time to Escape (DC) and Coke Bust (DC) are sick, and there are a lot of other bands doing some cool stuff. As far as Philly goes, Great Ceaser’s Ghost has some rad jams, and
Let Down is amazing--by far they are one of my favorite bands as of late. I'm a big fan of Triple Threat and Cut It Out, from Jersey.

What bands have inspired your music?

Mike: Bands that come to mind are Youth of Today, Side By Side, Uniform Choice, Chain of Strength. We're also all big fans of the "Revolution Summer" bands that came out of DC. You may not be able to hear the influence musically but bands like Embrace and Nation of Ulysses certainly play a very large role in the general make up of our creative energy and attitude.

What inspires your lyrics?

Mike: Ev and I usually toss around ideas for songs together. Songs usually come from things we discuss...problems we see in ourselves, and in the world—the current state of the world and humanity.

Tell us a little about what your song ‘Self respect is my anti drug’ means to you?

Mike: It began as a conversation between a few of us Edgemen about how we thought it was silly when people would say things to us like "I don't agree with you, but I really respect your lifestyle". It was usually a drunken kid patronizing the hell out of us and we just thought it was silly. Hopefully this song points out that we aren't doing this for other people's respect and additionally...maybe they should respect themselves enough not to damage their own body! Respect yourself...stop patronizing us!

What’s your song ‘straight forward’ about?

Mike: Well, as the title suggests, it's pretty straight forward. We intend to stay straight, stay young, stay positive, and stay in control of our own lives FOREVER! This lifestyle is not a trend.

How is the hardcore scene in Maryland? How does it compare with the Philly Hardcore scene?

Mike: MD is a funny scene. There are a lot of really good bands out there doing their thing and getting a lot of recognition. It's really put MD, specifically Baltimore on the map as of late. Another interesting point is the Baltimore scene is very connected to the Central PA scene and vice versa. Most shows have a mix of bands and kids from both areas. There are a lot of young kids who have been coming out too, which is great. For me personally, I see this hierarchy: kids who have been around longer and are "on top" so to speak, tend to run what's going on in the scene. Lately though, I feel like there is this whole different group of kids who are on the fringe of the social structure in the scene. For whatever reason (probably don't have North Face jackets) these kids are kind of starting their own thing at the bottom and it's growing. I like to see that.

Have you played in Philly?

Mike: We've only played Philly once and it sucked. There were a bunch of bike punks throwing beer at us and trying to pick fights. A policeman looked up our friend Jilly's skirt and said "Haven't seen that in a while". The show was in a house and was basically a frat party but the kids had Mohawks and safety pins instead of white hats and pastel collared shirts. They were more interested in partying than watching what I thought was a really good line up of bands.

Can you tell your fans a little about your new album and where they can pick it up?

Mike: The best way to pick it up would be come to a show and meet us! We're also working on a 7 inch right now so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Any tours lined up?

Mike: We're planning on doing 2 weeks in the summer.

Interview by Roya Butler


Interview with MC Aggro


Just five years ago, at age 13, Aggro bought his first music production software and vowed to become a household name on the streets of London. He built himself a studio and started creating beats for MCs, singers and songwriters, making Grime music for MCs, and Hip-Hop/RnB tracks for rappers and singers. Multifaceted, Aggro is well known for playing the keyboards, drums and guitar on all of his productions.

Inspired by the host of UK lyricsts he worked with, Aggro picked up the mic himself, performing at venues such as The Works (Kingston), Sound (Leicester Square), Bar Rhumba(L,S), Skala(Kings Cross), and many more venues across the UK. Aggro widely expanded his fan base with his successful tour of the Midlands and the airing of his video “Free Yard” on MTV’s Channel U, which ranked number one in its third week and remained in the top three for over three months.

Strong willed and majorly talented, Aggro intends to build on his reputation and fame by releasing product and merchandise through his company Shagalang Entertainment. His music can be heard on

I got a chance to interview Aggro and chat about his new video, inspirations, and future projects.

Where did you get your tage ‘Aggro’ from and what does it mean?

Aggro: Aggro means To aggrovate, annoy irritate someone, My tag goes all the way back to school days wen all i would do is give people Aggro. I was one of the smart but rebelious students. Eventually people jus started callin me that in school n wen i started mc'in i jus kept the name, This name goes a long way back so hold tite the "immitators"

What does ‘Shagga’ mean?

Aggro: S – Sexy, H – Humerous, A – Adorable, G - Go , G – Getting, A – Aspiring

If there was one question you did not want to be asked, what would it be?

Aggro: I aint got nuffin to hide, but obviously I wouldn’t be posting out my private life, that’s not included!

Does your tune ‘Free Yard’ highlight your outlook towards girls?

Aggro: hmmm, good question *laughs*. Free Yard was written when I was 15, so my views have long changed since then. If a girl takes the song offensively, she is being extreme. It's a funny tune exploring the whole stigma of boy versus girl attitude. Of course I respect women, as you can hear on some of my other tunes.

Describe your perfect girl.

Aggro: A perfect girl for me would be one who’s confident, smart has self respect and is also good looking. Race doesn’t matter, as long as they're attractive. They definitely gota be trustworthy too ,cos u kno how things are nowadays!

If you had a girl, would you take her to your shows?

Aggro: hmm, if I had a girl, I wouldn’t really like to bring her cos that’s attracting unnecessary problems. I’ve been in fights at shows over girls, and it’s all long stress. It depends on the show really, but I wouldn’t really want to bring my girl to a performance for her own safety as well.

You were in a 4 year relationship that ended in 2007. Can you tell us what you learned from it/how you’ve grown?

Aggro: It matures you in a sense, teaches you a lot about being with other people and also how to deal with certain life situations.

What inspired your song ‘Shoulda Known?’

Aggro: what inspired me to do Shudda Known is the whole thing about everyone being unfaithful nowadays. A similar story has happened to me before, so I made the concept and wrote a tune for it. I write mainly about my experiences!

Please tell us a little more about your mix ‘Tired of Being Here’.

Aggro: Tired of being here was a tune that I wrote when I was 17, when I was emotionally going through a lot. The best way for me to express myself at the time was writing that song!

How did you create Shagalang Entertainment, and what does it take to be a part of it?

Aggro: Shagalang is a catchy word Mems made up and because I and the members in Shagalang are such a tight family we decided to team up and call ourselves Shagalang Ent!

Tell us about your video out right now on MTV’s Channel U.

Aggro: The video is called Shudda Known, it’s a tune based on how faithful people actually are nowadays and how it can happen to anyone!!! Always be careful *laughs*.

A new school of thought believes that being a lyricist simply means knowing how to spit lines and producing tracks. In your opinion, is that all it takes?

Aggro: I think being an artist involves more than making a few songs and starting a Myspace, although that is a start. Being an artist, a REAL one, should involve the whole package: being able to write and concept songs, doing shows, and having good press and airplay. I do consider myself as an artist, as I incorporate all the above with my love for the music!

It seems that a lot of the talent emerging from the streets are now doing it for themselves, and have stopped thinking they need a record label to release the music. Tell us more about that.

Aggro: That is why we have so many artists because everyone has studio access everyone is making their music and this is why it’s becoming easier to get recognized without a record label. Everyone is doing it themselves out here!

Do you believe that looks helps you in the industry?

Aggro: I dunno. Look at 50 cent; he looks a bit merked but some girls think he is buff, so I dunno. In general it is said that good looking people do better and in a way it’s starting to become like that, cos having looks comes with the package, I suppose. I wouldn’t like to think that girls are only interested in my music for my looks, and not my talent as well.

What inspires your lyrics as a whole?

Aggro: wot inspired me to write lyrics is my own personal experiences n it’s a way to get things off your chest.

Who have you worked with in the past, and who do you aspire to work with in the future?

Aggro: I have worked with loads of people and the experiences were all very good and enjoyable. I’d say at the moment, maybe working with F.A.T, cos that’s been the most different thing I’ve done so far. People I would like to work with are people like: Cassidy, Kano, Dizzee, Luda, Timbaland, and loads of others that influence me.

If there was one person you could work with, dead or alive, who would it be?

Aggro: I think performing with Eminem would be a very good experience, I admire the guys creativity and think doing a show with him will be a good look, let alone a lot of promotion LOL!

If you could collaborate with anyone, for example NDUBZ, Lethal Bizzle, NAA, who would it be?

Aggro: I would like to collaborate with Dizzee Rascal. He’s keeping it original, and not a lot of people are. Hold tight his movement!

Tell us about your Brazilian heritage and the Samba influences in your music.

Aggro: Ever since I was five years old, I would bang little rhythmic patterns on drums; this developed my passion for samba which then went to guitar to then producing!

Tell us about Balham. What’s it like?

Aggro: Balham is home! It has its ups and downs. If you’re from there and you know everyone—it’s a nice area. It’s definitely a fast developing area in south London and has a lot of talent in there yet to be recognized.

Tell us about your show in Ghana over the Christmas break?

Aggro: It was amazing--my first time in Ghana. It was good to know that some people out there actually knew who I was. It was also good because people who didn’t know about me then got a chance to find out! Hold tight the city of Accra!

Your tunes are catchy, what is it that helps you create such a fun but fierce sound.

Aggro: I just have a good team behind me, and I listen to a lot of different styles of music, which reflects in my rap. I try to keep it as commercial, but real as possible!

Last words? Any Big Ups?

Aggro: Yes hold tight my brother Krome and hold tight Mems, User, & Foxx, Not to mention everyone else that believed in me from the start! THEY ALL KNOW WHO THEY ARE!

Interview by Roya Butler, with injected questions by Aggro’s fans


Interview with Lyricist User Boy, out of South West London


Straight from South West London, User boy spits tight lyrics and mixes, always one-upping his previous masterpieces of rhyme.

From the days of spitting in the playground, User Boy has grown into a fine lyricist these days, spitting his rhymes on stages and videos.

Growing up on straight-edge Hardcore and street/political Punk, I never gave Hip Hop a chance. I'd like to give a big up to User Boy for introducing me to his music and the UK Hip Hop music scene as a whole.

I got a chance to interview User boy and chat about his sound, lyrics, and recent projects.

How did you get the name ‘User Boy?’

User Boy: *laughs* well before the ladies think I’m some player, let me say I’m not. The name comes from my younger days. Back then, I admit I used to have girls spoiling me--like buying credit and nonsense, and my peeps use to say I’m a user. I won’t lie, I liked the name User, so I kept it *laughs.* It attracts attention--maybe not the right kind, but hey. I just wanna add, I never played with a girl’s heart, I promise ;-)

Was ‘this brother needs love’ based on a personal journey for you?

User Boy: ‘this brother needs love’ was based on a personal journey--but not entirely. Certain aspects of the tune were true, but the unfortunate ending did not happen, thank God. I decided to follow that ending to show how easy love could come and go!

Tell us about your new mix ‘Shit on You’.

User Boy: the freestyle I did 'Shit on you' was directed to all the little people that decide to use their time to try and put down me and my team (SHAGALANG). But even though these people are not worth my time, I felt I should address it by shittin on them *laughs.* I refer to these little people as haters. As I said at the beginning of the tune, haters hurt my stomach; therefore, I feel it’s my duty to shit on them, metaphorically *laughs,*by me improving and moving forward.

Please tell us a little more about your song ‘Safe Sex,’ other than the obvious title.

User Boy: *laughs* well, basically it’s obvious that a lot of people of various ages are having sex in the world, but not enough are practicing safe sex. This is mostly due to them not really knowing the risk of having unprotected sex. I did ‘Safe Sex’ to try and educate people in a funny but powerful way. I came at it from my own point of view, and what I saw around me, from girls persisting to have unprotected sex to the consequences of having a disease: “I don’t want my dick to drop off, don’t wanna be sick don’t want *cough cough*.” I wanna add, I’m not saying don’t have sex, just be sensible about it.

Tell us what your crew, Shagalang Entertainment, means to you:

User Boy: the world; my life; my family. We only consist of 4 members, myself User, Foxx, Aggro, and Mems. Individually, I think we have our own style and I feel we are very versatile artists, as we create tunes in most genres. Together, I really feel, there’s no limit to our potential. I don’t really classify us as a crew, but more as brothers with the same goal in life. I see serious things for us in the future, and hopefully our music will speak for itself.

What inspired you to be a lyricist?

User Boy: the power that music has, the way beats and lyrics could get a person out of their seat and dance—or, conversely, make a person wanna sit back and relax. I loved music from a child--from the days I use to try memorize Biggie lyrics *laughs.* Music is also a way for me to vent my emotions or get a point across for example ‘Shit on You’ and ‘Safe Sex’

Who are your major Influences in Music?

User Boy: first of all Shagalang: Aggro, Mems and Foxx. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve listened to one of their songs and been inspired to write another tune. Apart from that, the other influence would be the rest of the scene; because I do take time to listen to other MCs, artists, producers and DJs.

What are your musical aspirations?

User Boy: I hope to be heard; I enjoy doing my music, and I hope people enjoy listening to it. Also, I hope I sway more people into our scene, like I did to you *laughs.*

Your tunes are catchy, what is it that helps you create such a fun but fierce sound.

User Boy: I don’t even know, I’m just being myself when I write and when I’m on the Mic; so I guess I’m a fun but fierce person *laughs.*

What have you got in store for 2008?

User Boy: My mixtape, ‘The Name Say It All’ is coming out soon. A joint mixtape with my crew member Foxx ‘Find the Metaphors’ is also coming out soon. I’m also working on a mixtape with Mems, and another mixtape with Krayzie one of my boys from Birmingham. And there are plans for me and Aggro to do a mixtape. I’m also planning to do a couple videos this year, so keep your eye out for me!!

Last words? Any Big Ups? And where can people go to hear more about you?

User Boy : yeah I wanna say thank you for the interview, big up Shagalang, big up my hometown Clapham, and big up all my real peeps--you know who you are (too many names), oh yeh big up my main squeeze. And yeah, if you wanna hear more and see more visit my myspace page, which is updated regularly.

Interview by Roya Butler


Speed Kings Interview


Out of Wilmington, North Carolina, The Speed Kings shout a rebel yell which combines punk and rock-n-roll, drawing from old influences.

The current line-up is Axl- Vocals and Guitar, Spike-Vocals and Guitar, Will- Bass and Backing Vocals, and Jeff- Drums. You can check out their music at

I got a chance to ask Will about their music and inspirations.

You call yourselves a rock and roll punk band. Explain that further.

Will: well, really all punk is a stripped down form of rock-n-roll, with a little more edge and rebellion thrown in for good measure. We’ve got some songs that are straight up punk rock, and then others that have more of a 50's rock-n-roll feel to them.

What made you decide on making a band in this genre of music?

Will: basically, it's just what came out when we started playing. We like to draw on old influences because we want to make music that will stand the test of time and not fade away like most trends in music today.

What are your musical inspirations?

Will: The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, Johnny Cash, Ramones, Link Wray, Social Distortion, just to name a few. We all draw from a lot of different artists, in a lot of different genres.

What inspires your lyrics?

Will: Cheap Booze, Expensive Women, Fast Cars, Loud Motorcycles, & Dirty Rock n Roll!!

What’s your song 'hold fast' about?

Will: I don't can probably get different messages from it. For me, I think it’s about living your life day by day because the worlds a fucked up place. You should live each day like it's your last

How's the rock-n-roll/punk scene in North Carolina?

Will: the North Carolina scene has never been at a loss for great bands, but like any other scene it kind of
comes in waves. 2008 is looking like a great year so far. We just played a show in our home town Wilmington with the US Bombs and Far From Finished. That show was on a Tuesday night and the place was fuckin packed. It just showed me that the scene is definitely alive and well.

How did you meet your band mates?

Will: we'll Jeff and I started jamming with some other dudes about 3 years ago. I had been seeing Jeff around town and at shows for years but never really knew him. I had been introduced to Axl a few years back by a mutual friend. Axl had just moved to Wilmington from Miami where he was playing in a punk band called The Hangovers. I thought that they had a great sound and immediately thought of him when we were looking for a new singer and guitarist. Spike just recently joined the band, but has been a friend of all of ours for years. He's been in a ton of great bands over the years. We’re all into the same shit like old hotrods and choppers so we all get along great.

What are your favorite venues to play?

Will: in Wilmington, we love playing at The Soapbox. Their sound is the best in town. Also, for pure dirty rock n roll vibe you can't beat the 42nd St Tavern. As far as outside of Wilmington, I think the best place that we have played has been Abbey Lounge in Boston. They all greeted us southern boys with open arms!

Interview by Roya Butler


Interview with Mei-ling Koller, SIOA guitar Tech


I was lucky for the chance to meet Mei-ling Koller, SOIA guitar tech, a powerful woman in a male dominated profession. Snatching her away from the mayhem backstage, we found a quiet spot in the in the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia to talk. We explored her journey, from how she started to what it takes to be a female in such a ballsy profession. Being in such a tough profession is trying at times, but Mei-ling Koller has the inner and outward strength, and the fortitude, to excel.

First off, tell us about your marriage to SOIA guitarist Pete Koller.

Mei-ling: I met Pete at the gym. Just some random place, and it was love at first site, and we’ve been together ever since.

How is it on tour with him?

Mei-ling: We try to keep it professional. You don’t see us kissing in the corner. People don’t even know that we’re married until I say to them, “oh yeah, that’s my husband, Pete.” Because they’ll think that I got the job just because I’m married to him. Yeah, I’m married, but I still have to know what I’m doing.

So you’ve been married since you first started working with SOIA?

Mei-ling: Yep, that’s how I got in the loop. I got the hook up, haha. I was just standing around, so I started helping people load in and stuff. So they thought, “Oh, she’s a team player.” It’s very important to be a team player on tour! And so they just said, “fuck it. Let’s get Mei to do it.”

Tell us how you started doing merch.

Mei-ling: I first started doing merch because there was a guy named Joe Garambone, who I’m sure everyone knows. There was a tour that he couldn’t do, so I started doing the merch. And like I said, I started harassing every singer and roadie they ever had and they ever toured with, until I learned how to do guitar tech stuff.

Tell us about the ‘no girl’/’no wife’ policy.

Mei-ling: A lot of bands have a ‘no girl’ policy. They say, “Bad luck! No wives!” And it’s not that things happen, it’s just that they don’t like it. But I’m very fortunate that I get to tour with them and still am some one’s wife. It’s pretty damn cool.

How has things changed since you started doing guitar tech?

Mei-ling: I’m definitely more confident. In the beginning I was always second guessing myself. But now I’m completely confident, and that’s it. That’s the difference. Ladies, be confident! Pick up a guitar and learn. You can do it! If I can do it, you can do it.

How long did it take you to learn what it takes to be a guitar tech? How many years?

Mei-ling: Oh, I’m still learning! It’s been three years. For the past two years, I’ve just really started learning; I’m still learning new stuff every day.

What’s the hardest part about it?

Mei-ling: The physical labor…and having sexist men around you all the time.

Sexy men?

Mei-ling: Oh, they’re everywhere!

What’s the difference between touring America, Europe, and Asia, as far as sexism backstage?

Mei-ling: I really don’t think there’s a difference. You either have a good guy, or a sexist guy, and they’re all the same everywhere. You have the good guys who actually have faith, and then you have the sexist guys who think you don’t know anything because you have tits and lipstick on.

As a guitar tech, are you exclusive to Sick of it All?

Mei-ling: I’m trying to branch out, so if anyone wants me, they can email me (, but for now, just Sick of it All, yes.

Is it tough to be on the road and touring?

Mei-ling: You have to be a road warrior; you can’t worry about taking a shower every day. That’s pretty much the hardest part – not knowing where you’re going to shower. You can’t be too of a girly girl--but you can still wear perfume and stuff, so it’s not too bad.

Do you have any advise for girls in the scene?

Smile! Be nice. Not every girl wants to fuck your guy. Just smile and be cool! You’ll be surprised that you meet a lot of nice people.

Have you helped in any of the designing of the merch?

Mei-ling: I try to stay behind the scenes with stuff like that. But they have people. They have the band members. They have designers and stuff like that. But no, not me, I don’t do any designing with the merch.

Your steezy, so I figured you did the designing.

Mei-ling: No, I wish.

How did you get into Sick of it All? Were you already into Hardcore?

Mei-ling: Oh, no. I’m a hip hop lady. But Hardcore saved my life (I met my husband). If it wasn’t for Hardcore, I wouldn’t be seeing the world; I wouldn’t be enjoying the shows--I love being a part of the circus.

So you got to travel?

Mei-ling: Yeah, I never thought I’d be going to Europe twice or three times a year. I thought I’d be working in an office; so it saved me from getting a real job! And I get to be a part of the scene.

How is it with all the guys backstage?

Mei-ling: You can do anything you put your mind to! So I’m a woman. We can do anything that they can do. I don’t have a problem working with guys, so why should that have a problem working with me? So it’s like, “you’re a guy, I don’t have a problem with you!” But it’s good…good stuff.

Have you ever considered being in a band?

Mei-ling: I have been in a band. It was an all girl band called Skizonation. Actually Rachel from Most Precious Blood, and Brody from the Distillers gave me a jolt. They really inspired me. They were like, “ You can fuckin do this, girl!” And I did. So if you believe, you can achieve.

Are you still in a band?

Mei-ling: No, we broke up. I played bass. Allie from Fast Time sang. We had a drummer, Susanne, and Deesha on guitar. We were together for four years. We played with Alanta, AF, Sick of it All. But they all had their own stuff going on. So we took a break. At least I still get to keep touring and being a part of music.

What kind of music was it?

Mei-ling: Hardcore punk, basic generic power chords. *laughs* Like Lauren Hill says, “Don’t be a hard rock, when you really are a gem.” You don’t have to be tough. You can still smile.

When you were in a band, did you already know bass, or did you pick it up later?

Mei-ling: Hell no! I just started learning power chords. It was me and drummer. That’s the hardest person to find. For seven months we just practiced, practiced, practiced. Pete was like, “You guys are good.” So he started to play with us to see what we sounded like full. He recorded a demo with us. It was really good, and we started playing a lot of shows. Then once when we started to get our momentum, we had to separate. But it was good. Good times.

Would you like to add anything?

Mei-ling: Believe and achieve, girls, and make lots of babies! That’s it.

Interview by Roya Butler


Interview with Lou Koller of Sick of It All


New York hardcore band, Sick of It All (SOIA) was formed by brothers Lou Koller (vocals) and Pete Koller (guitar), Sick Armand Majidi (drums) and Rich Capriano (bass) in 1986. Hailing from Queens, New York, SOIA was formed alongside New York hardcore bands Straight Ahead, and Rest In Pieces which both featured Majidi and current Sick of It All bass player Craig Setari.

Majidi joined up with the Koller brothers and Rich Capriano to record the Sick of It All demo in 1986, after original bass player Mark McNielly and drummer David Lamb left.

The band began to play Sunday afternoon matinees at legendary venue CBGB's, and soon after released a self-titled 7" on Revelation Records (which was later re-issued on the tenth anniversary of its release, in 1997).

SOIA is now touring off their latest release, Death to Tyrants.

I sat down with frontman Lou Koller at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia, to talk about Death to Tyrants, touring, and their upcoming DVD.

Tell me how everything in your life has changed since I last saw you five years ago. Back then you had a girlfriend, and then you married her. When did this all happen?

Lou: We moved in together six years ago and we got married last year.

Congratulations. Tell us how your music has changed along the way.

Lou: With the band, we finished our deal with Fat Wreck Chords. We decided we got to a point where we got very complacent on Fat, and we got very used to doing things a certain way, so we just had to shake it up for ourselves. So as we approached our twenty year anniversary in 2006, we left Fat Wreck Chords and signed with Abacus/Century Media. So we sat down that year and tried to write a really good record, and released Death to Tyrants; we’ve been touring on it ever since.

Tell me how it’s different from your previous releases.

Lou: Like I said with “Fat,” we got into this routine of touring for two years, going home, writing for a month, putting out a record, and then going back on the road for another two years. With this record, we took seven months off just to write, and we wrote and demoed and wrote, which is something that we haven’t done for years. We got a really good producer – Tue Madsen from Denmark. He’s done a lot of really good bands. He’s done Himsa,The Haunted, God, I can’t even remember, because he’s done a lot of bands – a lot of real more metal bands. But he’s a fan of Sick of it All and he kept asking to work with us. So after we finished demoing and writing, we all went in the studio together, and it just clicked really good. It differs in that we took everything from our careers and everything we’ve learned and took it to the next level. We really pushed ourselves. We can’t “sing” sing, but we can scream in key, and we have melodic parts where we scream and sing, so it came out good.

Is your “screaming in key” more like melodic metal?

Lou: I don’t know. It really comes more from old school punk bands and oi bands that would sing with a raspy tone. And that’s pretty much the style that I grew up listening to. I loved metal, too, so I was totally into Motorhead. I thought, “If Lemmy can carry a tune, so can I.” So that’s what I figured.

How has married life changed you?

Lou: Not much. We have fun. My wife comes out on tour a lot. We’ve been to Japan twice now. Europe we’ve been to – I don’t know – a million times…

Can you tell us what it was like to tour in Japan?

Lou: I love it. Last time we went was last year. We hadn’t been there since 2001. In fact last year we hadn’t been there since 9/11 when it happened, and we hadn’t been back since. Not for lack of people wanting us, but it just didn’t feel right. We felt we didn’t have enough presence with Fat Wreck Chords there. But last year we were invited to headline at this festival called the “Magma Fest.” It was us, Madball, Bouncing Souls, a bunch of bands. It was great and reestablished us not only in the eyes of our fans, but a lot of the big promoters over there were really excited and said, “wow, Sick of it All hasn’t been here in six years and there’s 2,500 people here just waiting for them.” So it was great.

Do you have a big fan-base in Japan?

Lou: Yeah, it’s still underground I guess compared to other bands, but it’s good. We just got word that in the spring time we’re going out with the Dropkick Murphys to Australia, and they also asked us to do their Japan run. We’re headlining with the Dropkick Murphys. Can’t beat that.

What have you noticed in Japan and Europe that’s different from the U.S.

Lou: I think in Japan, music trends are really trends there. For example, hardcore was big in the late nineties and then it just dropped back down again to an underground level. In Europe, what I love about Europe, compared to the U.S. and Japan, is that we have fans that have been coming to see us since we first started going there in 1992, but now they bring their kids. And for us, it’s weird, because we’ll play the United States, and in some states and it’ll definitely be a 21+ crowd even though it’s an all ages show. And so I guess in America a lot of the younger kids have more bands their own age that they like, or their generation of band. In Europe, they tend to respect our longevity and our history more, and it’s amazing to us to go over there and to play every night to 1,500 or 2,000 people, and the age rages from sixteen to forty. So that’s why we spend a lot of time there.

And how is it playing in the UK. I hear there’s a lot of violence there since 9/11.

Lou: It depends. Like in America, there was the whole “thugcore” movement. But when we play we still get a good mix of crowd. We get the punk kids, metal kids – the thug kids still respect us for some reason. But we have a great time, and we’ve never had any problems in any of our shows in Europe.

What is the thugcore movement?

Lou: It more bands that have the “tough guy” image. It stems from bands like Agnostic Front, and the Cromags, and Madball, who grew up actually living a hard street live. And then there are these kids who want to emulate it. It’s kind of like ganster rap. It took off in Europe, and I’m not saying that there aren’t hard areas in Europe, but we found it funny when some of these bands would sing about how tough their life is and you find out that they’re from a farm in Holland. What do you fight cows? What are you doing?

So are they really interested in urban culture like in America when they don’t even experience it for themselves?

Lou: Definitely, you see it over there in the mainstream in the hip hop culture that’s so big there. It’s funny for us to go to Japan or Europe and see people in low riders looking like they’re “cholos” from the west coast. That’s what it is. They’re just emulating an urban culture.

American culture?

Lou: Oh, definitely. One thing we export well is our culture, and music, and movies.

Tell us more about Death to Tyrants, your tribute album, and what you have in the works for the future.

Lou: Well, the last album we produced was Death to Tyrants. Put it out 2006 at our twenty year anniversary. So that’s still out. A year later a tribute album to us was put out. It’s called, “Our Impact Will Be Felt.” We’re really proud of it, because of the variety of bands that are on it. You have Sepultura, Hatebreed, and Unearth. But then you also have Rise Against, Bouncing Souls, Kill Your Idols, and bands that like. So it’s a good mix of really heavy bands that we’ve influenced and also hardcore and punk bands. And we’re really proud that all these different acts, big ones and small ones. Like Kill Your Idols and No Redeeming Social value are bands that nobody even knows, but we included them on with big bands, because they’re our friends and they’ve said that we’ve influenced them. So we’re really proud of that, which is out now. And as far as us, future projects, we’re sitting down to write the new record. And we’re filming the last show of this tour which is tomorrow in New York City for a DVD. We have so much footage from over the last six years we’ll see what happens. We’ll try to put something together.

Is your DVD going to be more fan driven, or is it going to be about the band…

Lou: See that’s the thing. We don’t know yet. We have all this footage, but we haven’t sat down and they haven’t interviewed the band yet. What we’ve been talking about with the record label is that our main idea which we want to get across is to have people interview fans of the band. Like I said, maybe people who just got into us a year ago, or people who have been into us forever, just to see what is the difference in what attracts them to the band. And it would be easy enough to do, because we all hate doing camera interviews. We feel really silly. *laughs*

Is there anything that you would like to add?

Lou: Nah, cool. Everything’s good.


Interview with Lyricist Scener, out of West London


Emerging out of the streets of South West London, Scener is an up and coming UK Grime and hip-hop artist with addictive mixes and quick lyrics. At only 18, Scener spits with a tight sound defying boundaries. Spitting for two and a half years, Scener’s style has evolved quickly becoming a master of sorts in such a quick time, as he’s focused entirely on his craft. Attending Kingston College for music technology, there are no limits to what he is about to achieve.

I got a chance to sit down with Scener and talk about his mix CD, what he’s got in the works, and life in south west London.

What inspired your name, ‘Scener’:

Scener: ‘Scener’ means the scenery all around us—in our everyday lives, everything our eyes witness. Basically, ‘Scener’ is everything we see. I use everyday experiences in my lyrics and mixes, not making it beautiful, but seeing the beauty in everything and exposing things for how they are, raw, pure, and uncomplicated.

How did you create your song ‘Lyrical Master?’ It’s addictive.

Scener: The tune was conceived by Finker (for his promo ‘High Work Rate, Volume One’) and Gifted. After I was sent the beat, I played it on repeat. I got into it deep and wrote two catchy sixteen’s. Before I went studio, I had the bars on lock to get them out clean, and be sounding my best. We mixed it down, and felt a good vibe off it, especially the chorus. We’ve had a lot of good feedback on the tune, so that’s good news.

Tell us about your song ‘We Show Dem’.

Scener: ‘We Show Dem’ includes Myself, Finker, Gifted, Syner, and Ransom (all members of the Show Dem Team), and was conceived for Gifted’s promo ‘I Am Gifted’. I had no idea dis tune was planned. So, when I got to the studio, I was put on the spot to jump on it, and had to think of some bars to use to be suitable for the track. Everyone was happy how the tune turned out.

Tell us about Show Dem Entertainment:

Scener: Show Dem is made up of 10 artists all from around the London area (mostly south). There are 7 mc’s and 3 producers all working at good industry standard, all very much focused on their music. Basically, the name Show Dem is like a statement, for those with doubt.

What inspired you to be a lyricist?

Scener: Hearing people I know doing it gave me the inspiration to get into music and writing. I was also inspired by artists in the Garage and Grime scene, as well as hip hop artists. At first, it was nothing serious, just a bit of fun, but gradually, I started to really enjoy it.

What’s it like growing up in South West London?

Scener: Growing up in South West London, well, it isn’t a pretty place. But, I’ve lived here all my life, and its home to me; I don’t think I could live anywhere else. When people think of South West London, they see it as ruff—not the best of places to live, but there’s a lot of artist support in the area. They take the time to help each other—the community is really supportive.

Influenced by lyricists such as?

Scener: A big influence for me was one of my close friends ‘Finker.’ When I first started, I never really had anywhere to record. Finker started bringing me in on tunes, and giving me good advice to help me progress with my music. Also, being exposed to the scene as a whole has helped me progress to the level I am at now.

If there was one person you could work with, dead or alive, who would it be?

Scener: Dr Dre. He’s been such a big influence in the whole hip hop scene, with his beats, tunes, and in fact, most of his work. It would be a great experience to even just sit in the studio with him and watch him work his magic. Working with him would be more than a lot.

If you could collaborate with anyone, for example NDUBZ, Lethal Bizzle, NAA, who would it be?

Scener: (in the UK at the moment) ‘Griminal.’ He’s been doing a lot lately, and been getting a ton of promotion from within the Grime scene (tunes, sets, radio, etc). I also enjoy listening to his music as it gets me kind of hype.

It seems that a lot of the talent emerging from the streets are now doing it for themselves, and have stopped thinking they need a record label to release the music. Tell us more about that.

Scener: Well basically people have realized that sometimes it helps jus to get on with it yourself, as there’s not always going to be someone there to help you. Record deals aren’t always going to be chasing you down. If you want to get noticed you need do most of it yourself, to get your name out there, and to show them that you have what it takes to succeed in the business.

What are your musical aspirations?

Scener: First of all I would defiantly at least like to make a video that does well in the UK. It would be a dream if I got an album on the shelves in some of the well known music stores, and it would be an even better dream if it sold well. It would be nice to hear my voice on some of the better radio stations around London, and even all over the world.

Give us an insight to the recordings you’re doing now in the studio.

Scener: Right now I am currently recording my mix CD ‘To Me It’s Nothing, Volume One’, which consists of twelve tunes, with features from a lot of the Show Dem members. I have currently completed three of the tunes with another six started, so it’s coming along nicely.

Last words? Any Big Ups?

Scener: I would like to big up everyone who’s shown faith in me and supported my music in anyway; it’s truly appreciated. I would also like to big up Roya Butler for helping the cause and giving me a chance to put my name more out there, lots of love for this. Not forgetting to big up all of the Show Dem team (Finker, Syner, Oopsie, Lokes, Gifted, Ransom, Herotik, Magikal, and Tham). I’d like to big up Myspace because it has been a big help for me in promoting my music. ( (

Interview by Roya Butler


Interview with Rodney Torres, Pro Skater


Skating from age 11, pro skateboarder Rodney Torres has made a name for himself in NYC with his skate steez and personal charisma. I had the chance to talk with Rodney, as he told me about his background, about skating the streets of NYC, and his friendship with legendary Zoo York skateboarder Harold Hunter.

Who do you skate for?

Rodney: I don’t have a board sponsor right now. That last board sponsor I had was Official Skateboards; right now I’m a free agent, as far as that’s concerned. But I do have other sponsors, and those consist of Autobahn Wheels, Venture Trucks, Rival Skateshop, Rockstar Bearings, and DVS shoes.

Favorite skate spot?

Rodney: Flushing Meadows Park.

Tell us about that spot.

Rodney: It’s in Flushing Queens (where the world’s fair was held in 1965). There’s a lot of history there, but it’s also one of the best spots in New York City. It’s this big public park that’s open to everyone. The U.S. Open is held there annually and it's also the home of the New York Mets. I grew up skating there, and whenever I have the chance, I’m there skating. It’s probably the most fun spot. Skateboarding all over the city, in all the five boroughs is a lot of fun too. You can just get lost, and you'll find something to skate.

Street or park?

Rodney: I skate street, but I still like parks…anything, as long as I’m having fun.

East or west coast?

Rodney: I’m about all coasts. I’m from the east coast, but I’ve been to the west coast and had a lot of fun there. I met a lot of people while I was out there and had a lot of opportunities presented to me while I was out there, and skating was a lot of fun. I’m game for it all.

Have you ever skated in Europe or other parts of the world?

Rodney: I rode for a shoe company a while back called Osiris, and I got to go on a little Euro-trip for a couple weeks. I got to go to Germany, Amsterdam, Finland, and Sweden; there are a lot of beautiful people out there.

What was your favorite spot out of all those places?

It’d have to be Amsterdam. I had a lot of fun out there. Red light district was tight!

With the knowledge that one third of Amsterdam's red light district was recently closed down, did you hear of any increase in crime like the media has been predicting?

Rodney: Not to my knowledge. We were too busy skating and partying. Because basically it was our job to do demos inside of skate parks. And then after that we’d just party at night. That sums up my experience there: demos in skate parks during the day, partying at night. It was definitely a lot of fun.

Sum up a skater’s lifestyle.

Rodney: Skate, party, travel, promote yourself and your sponsors by getting filmed for the videos and getting photos taken for the magazines. The companies help promote you as much as they can through advertising, and everybody just kind of makes a living out of that. It’s fun and has it's perks.

Can you live off it?

Rodney: yeah, for a little while.

I know you’re sponsored by Rock Star Barings, Harold Hunter’s company. How did his passing affect you?

Rodney: Harold’s passing definitely affected everybody out here in New York. He was definitely more than just another skateboarder, you know what I mean? He was everybody’s friend. Everybody loved him. He was family. It was hard to believe when he passed, and it was very hard for a lot of people to deal with. We have a lot of celebrations for Harold out here in New York. There’s actually one coming up tomorrow. It’s a basketball game in memory of Harold, and it’s sponsored by a lot of different companies. But we’re keeping Harold alive. Legends never die.

Did you get to go to his funeral?

Yeah, I did. I can’t even explain how tough it was when everybody first showed up there. But then it got a little lighter towards the end of the wake, because they played a video of Harold and it was hilarious. It made everyone laugh, and that’s what Harold was good at – making everyone laugh. So that cheered everyone up, but just knowing the situation made it really hard.

Did you go all three days?

Rodney: I went two out of three.

Was it the same service on each of the days?

Rodney: Pretty much, yeah. As far as I know. Whoever couldn’t make it the first day due to work, or whatever reasons, they made it the next day. Harold’s going to live forever. He’s Harold. It was just so amazing how right he was. Legends don’t die. He’s going to live forever. Everyone’s going to remember Harold.

He influenced everyone he met in such a positive way.

Rodney: He definitely touched everyone’s lives.

Do you have any memories with him that you’d like to share?

Rodney: He was one of the first people that I met when I first started coming to the city from Queens. I was a kid; I think I was thirteen when I met him. He was definitely one of the best skaters that I’ve ever seen in person. He was always really cool. He made everyone feel welcomed. The memories I have are just good times skating and good times laughing. He was too much entertainment for even me to handle. My face would hurt from laughing so much with Harold. He let me into his home, and I got to meet his family. He basically took me in like a little brother when I was younger. He was the one that when other people hated on me when I was younger, he said to me, “Yo, just keep doing your thing.” He is the one that showed me that he believed in me. And that will always be appreciated, always. When everyone would always put you down for whatever reason, he would always be the one to pick you back up.

Favorite Harold trait?

Rodney: People would hate on Harold, but the awesome thing was that he would just love them right back. He would kill them with kindness. He is the man. That’s all I got to say.

Interview by Roya Butler