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Interview Take It Back!

If you're looking for a fun hardcore band that doesn't sound unlike Set Your Goals, go check out Take It Back! I don't especially care for the christian message but I do like the band's tunes on "Can't Fight Robots". A lot! Here's an email interview we did with vocalist Zack!

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Zack: I am Zack. I sing for TIB! Andy's with me, he plays guitar/vocals.

PRT: Who else is in the band and what kind of robot could they be?
Zack: Nick(bass) would be a very fashionable robot, Daniel(guitar) would be a dirty robot. and Josh(drums)would be a vaccum cleaner because he hates dirty or messy places. I guess my robot would have a huge megaphone for a head cause i talk all the time and Andy's robot would just be broken.

PRT: Can you give me the history of the band written in one minute or less starting… NOW!
Zack: We started as a fun band and ended up getting almost all new members and now we're signed to Facedown and traveling across country doing what we love.

PRT: Why does the world need another youthcrew band? :-p
Zack: Because not alot of youthcrew bands are really passionate about what they believe...this genre has become another fashion and needs to get back to it's begininngs.

PRT: Your Facedown debut is called “Can’t Fight Robots”… I know why I like it but can you give our readers three good reasons why they should pick it up? And while we’re at it, why exactly can’t you fight robots?
Zack: 1) Robots are cool. 2) Dave Quiggle did the artwork and it rocks! and 3) It's a fun record but the songs are full of heart and James Brown. The industry and media try to brainwash us into liking what they tell us to like and being what they want us to be and basically turn us into was kind of a take on that...people need to think for themselves.

PRT: Two names that keep popping up in my head and in other reviews I’ve read are Comeback Kid and Set Your Goals. Are those bands you feel comfortable being lumped in with?
Zack: Those bands are good and they're popular

PRT: As fun as your album sounds, you’re a band that takes its message very serious. Do you feel it’s harder to be accepted all throughout the hardcore scene being a christian band?
Zack: Yeah definitely. A lot of times the kids that come to our shows and sing along and dance but don't have any desire to go deeper with their faith...but then again we've definitly had those kids that come out and just let go and worship like crazy. We've seen both sides of it, some kids get what we do on a personal level and some kids take something completely different away from a show. It's all about personal interpretion.

PRT: Was Facedown your first choice as a label because of your beliefs or didn’t that come into play?
Zack: We really just wanted to work with a label that gets what we do. Facedown was definitely the main one we were interested in just because of the way they view themselves as a family...we were all about that. But the integrity that the bands on Facedown have is amazing...God is definitely the biggest priority on Facedown Records and we love that.

PRT: What’s more important for you… the music or the message? Does it bother you if someone simply likes your music a lot but doesn’t take anything else from it?
Zack: The message definitely has to be there for us but I think that the music is way important as well. Kids today are going to do what they want to...I can't make a kid go deeper in their faith, but I can let them know what Jesus has done in my life and I can love them like Jesus would. If they decide to go farther then I love being the one to listen to them talk, to answer their questions or pray with them. It's all about what they need. We're all in different places at different times in our lives.

PRT: If there was one thing you could bring back from the 80ies, what would it be and why?
Zack: Defintely the music...I love 80's music.

PRT: In the movie High Fidelity the guys that work in the record store constantly come up with these top 5 lists of songs for a specific occasion. If you would have to make such a list, which occasion would it be for and which songs would make the list?
Zack: It would be a road trip mix...I love road trips. I couldn't number them but it would include...
Hillsong United-The Stand
Phil Wickham-I Will Wait For You There
Alive In Wild Paint-Ceilings(the whole record sorry I can't pick one song)
The Emerson Letters-Everest
Jon Foreman-In My Arms
I've been listening to a lot of worship and indie music the past month or so.

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Zack: Go listen to our friends The Overseer. A Plea For Purging has a new song on their myspace and go buy the new War Of Ages record!

My So Called Life – On Phonelines And Letterheads

This UK-based band does a pretty good job on their debut album “On Phonelines And Letterheads”… think Jimmy Eat World-like emopop with some Hundred Reasons influences and you’re there. Not very original, the vocal harmonies could use a little more work and they fly with the same melody a little bit too long every single time but overall this is an ok kinda debut with some cool parts. Hopefully I’ll hear a lot more of those next time!
Score: 6 out of 10

Cancer Bats – Hail Destroyer

Canada’s Cancer Bats surprised me in a good way with 2006’s “Birthing The Giant” and they did it again now with “Hail Destroyer”. Their particular brand of hardcore punk sounds loud and angry as hell but has a lot of groove to offer as well. I’m all for it! And even though the chorus in “Deathsmarch” sounds like something Marilyn Manson could’ve written, this is still a pretty cool album. Especially “”Bastard’s Waltz”, which is easily my favorite song on here… Southern metal rules.
The songs blast out of the speakers from start to finish with some very cool riffs and pissed off yet melodic vocals. They’ve got some guests on here as well in the form of Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath, Alexisonfire’s Wade MacNeil and Billy Talent’s Benjamin Kowalewicz who all lend a hand in the vocal department.
Cancer Bats has only been around for four years but have already released two very solid albums. Check ‘em out if you haven’t done so already!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Albert Hammond Jr. – Cómo Te Llama?

Albert Hammond Jr., the son of and Strokes guitarist, surprised a lot of people with 2006’s “Yours To Keep”. It was an album filled with everything he couldn’t get the rest of the Strokes to play even though it was well worth hearing. He’s back now with another solo effort called “Cómo Te Llama?”.
A lot of the songs on here sound like something you’d expect from one of the Strokers and as if he knows it as well, he occasionaaly throws us a loop ball. Which sometimes works (“Spooky Couch”, a seven-minute instrumental)) but sounds a little too forced at other times. Other than that I have no real qualms with this one… basic rock n roll. You all know what to expect!
Score: 7 out of 10

Whitechapel – This Is Exile

I don’t know why but I was expecting Whitechapel to sound like a Black Sabbath clone. Instead “This Is Exile” is filled with the kind of uplifting tunes that are usually reserved for a black mass.

Triple guitar assault, dual vocal attack, brutal beatdown sections and a big fat groove… these Tennessee boys have got it all going on on album number two. Normally if a band takes a little grindcore, death metal and hardcore and throws it all together, I can’t be bothered for more than two songs. Especially if they use cookie monster vocals which are funny as hell rather than awe-inspiring. But there’s something about Whitechapel that kept me interested. They are extremely brutal but it’s not just one heavy part stringed to another. They’ve written actual songs and that pretty much makes all the difference in the world.
Whitechapel might be a name that doesn’t fit the bill and the cookie monster vocals are still ridiculous, but I can tell you that “This Is Exile” is one deathcore album I can actually endorse!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Interview The Gaslight Anthem

Great band. Amazing new album called "The '59 Sound". Awesome questions as usual. Short answers in return. Still a great band though!

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Brian: I'm Brian Fallon, I sing and play guitar in The Gaslight Anthem, and I'd like to tell everyone what the "dope is" and the dope is that there's still hope.

PRT: Can you give me a quick history of the band written in less than one minute starting… now!
Brian: We're from New Brunswick, NJ and we began in 2006.

PRT: What is it about New Jersey that it spawns so many great acts? I’ve already asked this to a bunch of people but never had a satisfying answer… so all my hope is set on you!
Brian: It's because people respond to desperation in music, that, and hope and in New Jersey there's a lot of desperation in the sense that there's not too much opportunity for stability in work here, there's factories that close all the time and you get the sense that your future is uncertain. But that also lends to hope of a better way, which spawns dreaming, which makes great fodder for songwritting.

PRT: For the people out there who haven’t heard The Gaslight Anthem yet… if The Gaslight Anthem was the lovechild of two other bands, which acts would’ve had sex and which position were you conceived in?
Brian: We're a mix of Springsteen, Buddy Guy, The Clash, and James Brown.

PRT: The Gaslight Anthem is still a relatively new band yet you already released two full-lengths and an EP in 2,5 years and you’re touring like crazy. How do you keep up and what do you like to do during a rare day off?
Brian: We just look forward, we just go all the time, when I'm off I go to the beach and just sit, reflection is great after a tour.

PRT: Just like Polar Bear Club you’re well on your way of becoming one of the most talked about bands in the scene and this for all the right reasons (the songs), which is becoming kind of a rare thing these days… what’s it feeling like for you guys?
Brian: It feels good to be here right now, I have a very good life and I get to do what I love everyday, can't ask for more than that.

PRT: Your new album is called “The ’59 Sound” and just like the band name, I like the ring of it… it sets a certain mood or feeling. Same thing with some of the song titles like “Film Noir” or “Miles Davis & The Cool”. It makes me think of the past and how things seemed purer and more honest back then… is that something you hear more often or are you looking at me in a whole new way now?
Brian: No, that's the general sentiment, which I'm grateful about as well. Thank you.

PRT: You recorded the album with Ted Hutt. What was it like working with him and what are some of the things you have learned from him?
Brian: Ted is a great human being, he gets bands. He just understands. I learned how to focus when writting to not put too many ideas into one song. Let each thought be its own.

PRT: If there is one thing you’d like TGA to be remembered for in 20 years, what would it be?
Brian: I'd like us to be remembered as an honest band who stayed true to themselves and that genuinely cared about their fans without an ego about it.

PRT: And if some day you decide to throw in the towel, there will obviously be a tribute band… what should they be called?
Brian: The '59 Sound for sure.

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Brian: Be good to each other.


Knights Of The Abyss – Shades

Yay! Another less than mediocre deathcore band… I really needed that! Knights Of The Abyss does the same thing as countless other bands have done before. And they didn’t sound that great either because they ripped off their sound for the biggest part from bands doing the same thing before them as well.
The whole heavy for the sake of being heavy thing is executed fairly good but in all seriousness, who else but a couple of 14-year-olds think that’s still cool these days?
Score: 4 out of 10

Heavy Heavy Low Low – Turtle Nipple And The Toxic Shock

Haha, these guys’ second album has such a funny title. Almost just as funny as some of the song titles on here (“Hahahahahaha”, “3000, 100 points, 100pts., Gummy Octopi”). It simply screams ‘look at us for we are so fascinating’. Wink wink nudge nudge. And just like the uglyass album art, the song and album titles, their music is very annoying. That’s pretty much the key phrase here that ties it all together… annoying.
Apparently the band (Heavy Heavy Low Low… how hilarious!) are very happy with the album because they as a band wanted all of their differences and quirks represented. And that’s exactly what they did on “Turtle Nipple And The Toxic Shock”. Unfortunately this leads to an unlistenable album filled with spazzed out rhythms and shards of noise that does nothing but rub me the wrong way whenever a new and probably extremely witty song starts up its engine and races by. And by the time the Black Flag cover “Wasted” kicks in, these guys have already left me behind catching my breath miles ago.
Score: 2 out of 10

Ligeia – Bad News

I missed out on Ligeia’s 2006 debut “Your Ghost Is A Gift” but they’re back with “Bad News”. Awesome album is what I thought before I had even heard a single note … records with hot chicks in bathing suits on the cover have a way of getting my attention.
These guys play metalcore with a little rock n roll vibe a la Every Time I Die, which makes songs like “I’ve Been Drinking” and “Johnny Cash” excellent party material. They then further inject those songs with some additional Deftones influences (“Bombshell”)... it could very well turn out rubbish, but it doesn’t. They pull it off nicely and deliver some very cool songs.
Most of all this is because of Keith Holuk’s vocals… he’s got a great set of pipes and has no trouble switching between screams and clean vocals that for once do not sound as if he lost his balls somewhere on the way to the studio.
It might not be very original (seems like I’m writing that line in pretty much every single review these days) but Ligeia rocks fairly hard regardless!
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Elysia – Lion Of Judas

“Named for the final resting place of warriors in Roman Mythology, the Sacramento, CA based Elysia create epic battle hymns for the metal and hardcore set”.
That’s what it says in the bio… now, I don’t know how epic things can get in songs that barely last two minutes, but they are pretty spot-on when later on they write that these guys are”excessively brutal”. They’ve got that same raw, chaotic and in-your-face thing going on as Zao, Nights Like These or Converge. Coincidence or not, it’s Converge’s Kurt Ballou that produced “Lion Of Judas” and makes it sound like one mean motherfucker. A mean motherfucker you might’ve run into once or twice before but he’s still able to deliver a nasty blow to the guts nonetheless.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Camper Van Beethoven – Popular Songs Of Great Enduring Strength And Beauty

Camper Van Beethoven is busy celebrating their 25th birthday and for the occasion they released a long overdue best of album. On it you’ll find the eclectic mix of styles that Camper is known for including but not limited to punkrock, ska, Eastern European folk, psychedelic rock and country waltzes. It makes for a messy but much tasted whole. And no matter what the occasion, Camper Van Beethoven has just the song to go with it… whether your dog ran off and went to the moon or if you aren’t particularly fond of Club Med, it’s all on here!
And of course, the college radio favorites are featured as well. “Take The Skindheads Bowling” (the Teenage Fanclub version prominently featured in Michael Moore’s “Bowling For Columbine”), the Status Quo cover of “Pictures Of Matchstick Men” and one of my personal favorites, “Good Guys And Bad Guys”.
They stuck out in the punk scene back when they started out in the early 80s and they still kinda do today. But their songs still sound as fresh, funny and catchy as when I first heard them!
Score: 8 out of 10


The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound

There's plenty of punk bands around that carry out the same message as Bruce Springsteen. Stories about the working man, broken hearts... there's more than enough of that going around. But The Gaslight Anthem goes way beyond that. They are one of the only punk bands - if not the only one - that succeeds in melding the sounds of The Clash together with Springsteen's signature sound. It's not just the vocal delivery (both artists hail from New Jersey) and it's more than the lyrics that make even the biggest clichés sound completely earnest... it's the entire atmosphere of "The '59 Sound". It's the whole of driving bass lines, carefully strummed guitars and Brian Fallon’s deliciously rough-edged vocals combined that makes songs like opener "Great Expectations" and "Miles Davis & The Cool" truly shine. "Film Noir" turns from a blues song into something that could've come out of Social D's catalog while "The Backseat" is one of the songs The Bouncing Souls haven't gotten round to writing yet.
Every single song on here is amazing and I wouldn't be surprised if The Gaslight Anthem is gonna be one of 2008's most talked about bands. And they completely deserve it!
Score: 9 out of 10

Mötley Crüe - Saints Of Los Angeles

What to do when you were big in the 80s? Not so much for your music as for all the sex and drugs around the rock n roll. Write a book about it? Check. But what when that's already been out for a while and you're about to dive back into relative anonimity? Which especially in Europe would no doubt be the case. The only thing we've heard about the Crüe in the past ten years was probably when Tommy Lee's home video with Pamela came out. And let's face it, that was more about Pamela then about Tommy Lee.

So these guys got all their make-up, hair products and leather pants back out of the closet and headed in the studio in the original line-up to record their first album in nine years, loosely based on their biography "The Dirt". And I have to say I honestly found myself pleasantly surprised. Based on all of the above, I was expecting a bunch of 40-year-olds to come up with a crappy album just to cash in for the last time. But no, "Saints Of Los Angeles" sounds like the logical follow-up to "Dr. Feelgood". Don't expect anything out of the ordinary... just sleazy and loud rock n roll with catchy choruses. It's pretty much all you need to get a party started! Plus some strippers, lots of blow and liquor and some nasty sex... damn, I've been listening to this album way too much!
Score: 8 out of 10

Turbonegro – Small Feces vol. 1 & 2

All hail Turbonegro! The gayest rock n roll band in the world is back. Not with a new album but with a collection of all their rarities and covers that already appeared in 2005. It sold out then and so now it’s re-released in a limited edition of 5000. After which they can always repackage it again and drop another ‘limited edition’.
It’s a pretty cool selection of 42 songs though, all recorded between 1989 and 1997. There are live recordings, old recordings and a shitload of covers from acts such as Black Flag, Rolling Stones, David Bowie, The Stooges, MC5 and a band called Anal Babes. All of them have in common that they rock and that they still rock (or rock even harder) after having been given the Turbonegro deathpunk treatment.
There’s plenty of liner notes to read as well which among others feature the story of how one record label owner almost started to cry when he heard the mindless rambling of Hank on “Kaerlighetens Born”. The sound quality is kinda shaky at times but what else to expect of a bunch of drunk denim-clad Vikings that like to record a lot of stuff in between circle jerks. Which leaves me with just one question… should I or should I not sing along to “I Got Erection” while surrounded by my co-workers?
Score: 7 out of 10

We The Living – Heights Of The Heavens

We The Living already went through the hassles a major label deal can bring with it. After being signed and then dropped by Maverick, they have now released “Heights Of The Heavens” on their own.
I got kinda scared when I read these guys all share an interest in philosophy because all too often that kind of pseudo-interesting babble is simply used to hide the fact that a band’s music is well, crap. We The Living, who seem to be influenced by Coldplay, The Fray and nineties rock acts such as Vertical Horizon, don’t sound like crap. But it didn’t really do it for me either. For “Heights Of The Heavens” they squeezed out nine slabs of arenarock with big choruses and the occasional piano to show their sensitive side. Too bad it all sounds so damn formulaic. Like the kind of songs that pop up in shows like “One Tree Hill”. Not that I watch that show. I’m just guessing. I mean, I’ve heard people talk about the show and based on that… yeah, that sounds about right.
Score: 6 out of 10

Signal The Escape – All That You Deserve

“All That You Deserve” is Signal The Escape’s debut full-length. They previously released an EP called “These Scars Are Just The Beginning”, which already boasted four of the songs you’ll find on here as well. It turns out to be a decent album even though it sounds like a whole bunch of other acts out there. Senses Fail comes to mind a lot but some of the songs on here are slightly poppier. They do a pretty good job though even if there’s nothing on here that you haven’t heard before. At least the singer doesn’t have one of those typical whiny voices which is a big plus!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Braindead – No Consequences

Never heard of this band before but I like Peter Jackson’s movie that goes by the same name so they already have that going for them. On “No Consequences” the guys in Braindead kick out 10 songs in just 23 minutes and after a mood-setting intro they push down the gas pedal and hardly ever look back. Think Count Me Out and Betrayed (“Over My Head”, “Sure Is Lonely Down Here”) but then in comes “Guilt And Shame” which reminded me more of a band like No Trigger. Or how about “Dear Alison”, another instrumental track that made me think of the immensely underappreciated Renee Heartfelt?

The seven-minute closer “A Wake For A Dream” rings out with layer upon layer of static up to the point where I thought my stereo had just plain given up on me. They’re probably making a point but I could’ve done without that. Instead I’d rather listen to “So Single” again which is a kickass song with guest vocals from Jena Berlin’s Jon Loudon.
Amazing debut that any hardcore lover is sure to appreciate!
Score: 8.5 out of 10

No Age – Nouns

Randy Randall and Dean Spunt are the two names behind No Age. Spunt is the drummer that also handles the vocals just like Phil Collins. But you’ll never hear Collins churn out tracks like “Miner” and I very much doubt you’ll hear Spunt belting out “You’ll Be In My Heart” anytime soon. The other dude in No Age sure loves his distortion pedal and drapes a wall of guitars over the rhythms making it a No Age song.
They already surprised a lot of people with “Weirdo Rippers”, got signed to Sub Pop and have now released their first real full-length with “Nouns”. Their two-man punkrockshow a la Lightning Bolt with additional Dinosaur Jr. influences might appeal to a lot of people but can the new album hold up against the hype? Not so much if you ask me.
“Nouns” ain’t a shabby album but I’m kinda missing some hooks. Maybe next time they oughta try to make things a little more memorable and a little less artsy.
Score: 6 out of 10

Billy Idol – The Very Best Of : Idolize Yourself

Wow, Billy Idol… remember that guy? Probably… I guess everyone remembers songs like “Dancing With Myself” and “Rebel Yell” and the accompanying videos full of half-naked girls in tight outfits that were perfect for well, dancing with yourself.
The CD has all of the blonde bombshell’s best songs including the abovementioned as well as “White Wedding (pt. 1)” and “Sweet Sixteen”. These songs are pretty much essential to every rock fan’s collection but the further you go down the tracklisting, the less I think you can speak of hits, ending with two new songs (“John Wayne” and “New Future Weapon”) that are hardly worth mentioning.

The DVD is fun though with 13 music videos to gawk at. The girls in the video don’t look quite that hot anymore as all those years ago and Billy Idol himself is strutting around in outfits that even the gayest guy around wouldn’t be caught dead in but it makes for an entertaining evening with a couple of friends and a lot more beers.
Score: 7 out of 10

Blackmooge – S/T EP

No, it’s Blackmooge, not Blackmore. It’s got nothing to do with Ritchie! Blackmooge is a side-project of Helmet’s rhythm section. So what to expect? A little bit of drum n bass? Get it? Rhythm section… drum n bass? Actually, it’s not that far away from the end result making my joke even less funny because Jon Fuller (aka Mooge) and Kyle Stevenson (aka Black) have taken this opportunity to explore their electronic side.

On their 4-song EP you’ll hear very rhythm-driven tracks that incorporate elements from 50’s jazz, dub, rock, noise and industrial. These guys like to improvise during their live performances and even went as far as to record these cuts live in the studio. It all sounds pretty friggin’ cool… kinda like Leftfield getting it on with DJ Spooky while John Zorn and Mike Patton are taping the whole thing.

Not only do they know how to write a badass song and rock the fuck out with Helmet, they also know what to do with an erection that lasts for over 4 hours. If you wanna know the answer to that one, you can contact them at, which also happens to be the address you need to pick up one of the hand-numbered limited edition digipak EP.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

The Banner – Frailty

Hardcore punk band The Banner bursts out of whatever dark lair they were holed up in with another scathing attack on your eardrums. This time it’s called “Frailty” and it literally explodes out of the speakers. This is about as nasty as it gets… think of a slightly more mellow (in the broadest context possible) version of The Acacia Strain, Converge without the chaos or the now defunct Cursed.
If they continue down this path, they might just come up with a sound all their own and will be a real treat for all the grimy hardcore lovers out there!
Score: 7 out of 10