“Not caring sucks; I’m here for bands that want to talk about what matters to them, what causes they care about, what they’re listening to, whatever. Everybody’s going through it, let’s go through it together.” – W.
Redbait from Missouri declared their intentions clearly within the first few pummeling moments of “We Refuse” on their recent Red Tape EP. The band are loud, clearly pissed and pack a potent political message in this timeline of complete mass stupidity. We need bands who are actively trying to make the world a better place and spreading awareness more than ever. The punk and metal scenes used to be a place where you could find out about dissent and activism and it was encouraged, believe it or not, for bands to use their podium for something other than selling merch or drinking beer on stage. “Smoke In Your Eyes” is one of the more powerful songs I have heard from any band in the underground in the last few years and I am thrilled this group is jumping into the trenches at full speed.
It was a pleasure to break through the thick fog of gullible fact resistant mental soup we are indoctrinated with on the daily and speak to a band who are decidedly intent on upending the bigotry, greed and sexism of our American disgrace. In short, this band is exactly what myself and likely many others who love punk and metal need right now in order to feel like they aren’t completely losing their minds. Read more HERE.
What is the music scene for extreme music in St. Louis? I am actually pretty under educated on the Missouri underground status. I know some bands but not the “scene”. Lot of action or kind of an uphill battle?
B (guitar): St. Louis has always put out a ton of amazing, hard working, talented bands, and that continues to be true today. There tons of great bands right now, and lots of them are doing cool things. We’ve always had a strong scene here. It’s had its ups and it’s had its downs. But, we’re a small city. We have to work extra hard to get people to come out. There’s a solid core group of people that attend just about every show, and there’s always been a huge efforts to try and draw new faces. And a few people extremely dedicated to booking shows and bringing people out. I will say though, the coolest thing I’ve seen happen over the last few years is the amount of benefit and fundraising shows that happen. Recently we played a show that was a fundraiser for the Women’s Safe House of St Louis at a 100-cap. coffee shop. A five dollar donation got you in, and at the end of the night $1,100 for the Safe House was raised. This is not an uncommon thing here, and I love that.
W (guitar): St. Louis has a long history as a music city, but it seems to trickle out extreme metal bands pretty slowly. Anacrusis was doing their thrash/prog thing back in the early 90s, Fister has been cranking out sludgy doom for ages, and now bands like Black Fast and Lion’s Daughter are doing big things. A couple of our members were in bands before this one, so we have some ties to the hardcore scene here, but we’ve also been able to play with an incredible variety of local bands so far, from grind to acoustic punk to shoegaze to video game music. We’re happy to play with pretty much anybody, and St. Louis has allowed us to do just that.
How did you become a band? I know that’s like the most played out question but your group has a great energy and dynamic so I wondered how you became allies.
W: We all got to know each other in the St. Louis leftist/activist community long before the band formed. After however many protests and potlucks, we finally had the “oh, you play guitar?” conversation, and we finally got together to play as a pickup band to cover a show some members’ other band couldn’t fulfill. Did a couple shows of old punk covers, Minutemen, Bad Brains, 45 Grave, stuff like that, and once we got through those we decided we didn’t want to stop, so we had to start writing songs.
I love the mix of crusty punk and hardcore with a little more edgy extreme metal influences. It feels immediate and like being at a protest. There’s crackle and blood on the tongue. I think “I’ll Be Fine” might be my favorite track so far. Kind of reminds me of a weird mix of bands like Trial, War On Women and Nausea…all fucking sick. I bet it is off the chain live! Did you have conscious decisions on what style to focus on for Redbait or was it born from the riffing or lyrics?
W: Thanks, those are bands we love, so it’s awesome to hear that those influences shine through. When we started writing, the closest thing we had to a plan was “maybe we can write some crusty stuff in the vein of Tragedy/His Hero Is Gone/Fall of Efrafa.” You got it right about the mixture, though. Everybody in the band has a different set of influences and sounds that we want to cram into the songs, so when you stir up those six lifetimes of music listening, you get whatever it is that we sound like. What’s been really cool is bouncing those different ideas off each other and building on them together, so that we wind up with a bunch of songs that none of us could have written alone.
N (bass): I second that. In my past experience, songs have been written by one or two members. Redbait has been my first experience with contributions from everyone. The lyrical content adds to the energy and ultimately the sound, in my opinion. For example, you mention “I’ll Be Fine”. Some of us have first hand experience on the receiving end with domestic abuse, and the lyrics drive us to take out that baggage on our instruments.
B: We have this almost unhinged list of musical backgrounds between the six of us. Hardcore, punk, metal, goth rock, bluegrass, country, indie rock, emo, post hardcore, etc etc and the kinda middle ground we came up with was “crusty hardcore.” Trial is a big influence on at least four of us, so you’re spot on there. But because of all these different influences, I personally have a hard time naming bands we actually sound like. I know we aren’t doing anything revolutionary, and all music is derivative of something else. I can think of some “for fans of…” bands, but not a “Redbait sounds like ___”. But we have been likened to bands like Dystopia, Doughnuts, Iskra, Trial, and Appalachian Terror Unit.
R (vocals): Being compared to those bands makes me poop my pants. I love them!
My girlfriend (Globelamp) sings pretty psych folk and mellow stuff most of the time and name dropped Dystopia to me as a loud band she liked the other day and I was so stoked! Ha. So, I personally think society went so wrong with reality tv. I mean, it is cool to have people YouTube monetized when they can make their own art or tutorials or platform equal rights but so often it backfires and allows assholes to be ‘experts’ or saw, for example, the basic protracted death of music videos in favor of banal talentless pieces of shit and Donald Trump being taken seriously. Your band has a vital quality without the sort of snobby apathy. Do you think people are starting to snap out again of the “it’s cool to not care” pose?
W: What I think is great about Youtube and similar platforms is that they have a democratizing influence on how the music business works. It’s never been easier or cheaper to record music and make it available to anyone that wants to hear it, and that’s good, to me. Everyone can and should start a band and make a record if they want to. Maybe people will make a bunch of records I don’t like, but the net result is that greater access means we get to hear great music that wouldn’t have existed otherwise, and that rules.
“No snobby apathy” might be my favorite review so far. We’re obviously not shy about the things we believe and care about, and it seems like that has resonated with people who hear the songs. Not caring sucks; I’m here for bands that want to talk about what matters to them, what causes they care about, what they’re listening to, whatever. Everybody’s going through it, let’s go through it together.
N: I once heard a comrade finish and argument with “You don’t care? Then you don’t have an opinion. So, fuck off, you nazi troll!”. If someone is granted the space to get their message across, they better have a message, otherwise it’s a waste of that space.
R: I’m really into that song by Frank Turner, “Love Ire and Song”, because it perfectly encapsulates how I feel about taking a stand. If we’re stuck on this ship and it’s sinking, we might as well have a parade. You can look cool doing nothing, or you can make a party out of screaming for justice. We choose the latter.
What’s up with Dick Punch? Love the thumpy bassline. Is it about Dick Van Dyke? He seems so nice! Don’t punch him!
M (vocals): Dick Punch is about the harassment women face in all aspects of the public sphere, particularly at shows. It’s about going to a show and being harassed or groped and people view that yet they remain complicit and do nothing to stop it. It’s about being fed up with people ultimately refusing to deal with abusers in their community and sometimes going so far as to defend abusers because of their reputation. Makes you want to punch em in the dick and run.
R: Madeline wrote that song. Then Nicholas said “I think it really needs something at the end” So I just belted out something at the top of my lungs, inspired by her lyrics in a style I got from a song called ‘By the Balls’ by the Vomit Punx. Everyone’s face was just white after I screamed it out like that. Nicholas goes “What the hell was that!?” and I said “Punch your dick and run.” Everyone laughed and thought it was great. That’s it. “Dick Punch” was born.
Do you have a favorite Crass album? Just wondering because many roads lead back to that band in terms of outspoken punk and I wanted to remind readers of other cool political acts.
M: Feeding of the 5000. No contest.
R: Christ the Album. It’s what I had access to when I was 16. (Personally I think this is the correct answer -author’s note)
N: Feeding of the 5000. (P.S. there is more than one Crass tattoo on this band)
W: Rather listen to Amebix.
What is the craziest show you have played to date?
M: We played New Age Fest recently and that experience was mind blowing to say the very least. Being able to share a stage with bands that we’ve grown up with and are influenced by, like Trial and Mouthpiece, is something I never thought I’d have the privilege of being a part of.
N: New Age 30, for sure. In 20 years of playing out, that was the most positive and high energy weekend. I had seen and played shows with the “veterans” on the fest in the past, but the current working bands on New Age blew me away (Decline, Crow Killer, Treason, Drug Control, Safe and Sound,etc).
It is cool to see more anti-fascism in extreme music again, though it sucks that it is a reaction to actual fascism. Tolerance used to be cool. I mean, it still is in reality but culturally despite his flaws as a person when I was growing up, for example, I loved that when Nirvana was the biggest band they promoted small scene artists and feminism. It is so easy when that element is missing or not platformed to have things spiral so fast back in the wrong direction. What are you trying to do or change, small or large scale?
W: I spent countless hours with Nirvana and Pearl Jam as a kid, and you’re right, they relentlessly hyped underground bands, and they made people to listen on a massive scale to songs about reproductive rights, homelessness, and sexual assault. If we can contribute a little bit to a scene where that’s the standard again, I’m happy. We’ve been able to connect with a lot of like-minded bands who are ready to center those issues and take those stands, hopefully we can continue building that community and encouraging new bands to do that.
N: Most of us have been fighting fascism and capitalism in small cadres for years. The thought of being part of something “on the large scale” seems like an alien concept. However, these days it is possible. Universal benefits like nationalize healthcare, collectively funded higher education, and support for the arts require massive organizing campaigns that change public political will. As a band, we engage in civic engagement, grassroots organizing, Union activity, and direct actions. Perhaps the visible participation of Redbait in these efforts inspires some kid to be the next punk rock Kathleen Cleaver, Carrie Nation, or Mother Jones and lead a large scale social change. One can dream.
R: In Missouri we have one single abortion clinic in the entire state, surrounded at all times by deceptive protesters trying to trick women into going into a christian funded crisis pregnancy bus parked outside. We have this butthole about to be confirmed to the Supreme Court who will likely be the deciding vote to overturn Roe. This is all happening at the same time as MeToo in popular culture. Women and allies really need to come together to make our values real in the legislature as well as popular culture. It’s cool that dudes can’t get away with assaulting us so much any more, but they are about to be able to force us to carry an unwanted pregnancy. It’s a weird time to be alive.
Full length in the works?
W: Right now we’re in the middle of tracking for release #2, which will be a 7” on New Age Records, hopefully out early 2019. After that, we set our sights on a full length.
B: We were asked to be a part of a couple pretty cool compilation records that will be coming out in the near future as well. I’m real excited about those, big fan of comps.