This interview was originally done by Zed for Scene Point Blank online zine.
On the evening of January 9, I drove into San Francisco to attend a hardcore show. Knowing that Verse would be playing I wrote up a bunch of questions prior in hopes they would okay an interview. Not only did they accept the interview, but Iím pretty sure one of the boys winked at me. After their performance, I met up with Eric and Sean outside. They were both covered in sweat and smiles. And thus it began! -- Zed
Scene Point Blank: What is your name and what do you do in Verse?
Eric: My name is Eric and I play guitar.
Sean: Iím Sean and Iím the vocalist guy.
Scene Point Blank: What does the acronym V.E.R.S.E. stand for?
Eric: It doesnít stand for anything, itís just a word.
Scene Point Blank: Okay, if it was to stand for somethingÖ?
Sean: Best question weíve ever been asked.
Eric: Very enormousÖredÖsuper elephant.
Scene Point Blank: Assuming itís a word, what does Verse mean to you guys?
Sean: Itís tied into the music, itís how I came up with it. I thought it was kind of a cool word. Iíve always been into bands that have one word rather than some super long name. So it kinda stuck.
Scene Point Blank: How did you guys get started?
Sean: We all pretty much knew each other before. Eric and I had been in a band before. Everybody in the band were in side projects with each other before. We started off as a side project, I was playing drums. I was in another band called What Feeds The Fire and that was coming to an end. I left that band and asked if I could move to vocals and find a different drummer. Then our friend Mike started playing drums for us. Thatís pretty much how we started. Then we recorded that four song 7Ē. And that was that.
Scene Point Blank: Do you agree?
Eric: Thatís the gist of it.
Scene Point Blank: After releasing a 7Ē on a Rhode Island label, why the full length release on Rivalry Records, a west coast label?
Eric: We actually spent a long time trying to find a label to put it out. Kyle had wanted to do it for a little while and he was a friend of Seanís. I met him a while ago, before the record came out. It just felt right. Itís good to have someone we know, someone we can trust to put the record out. At that point we didnít feel like Al and Dan with Contrast were really going to be serious about doing a full length. Thatís pretty much where that came from. I work with Dan, thatís how I met him, he was going to start a label. That was his New Yearís resolution, he wanted to start a label. We had just done that recording and said, ďWhy not put our demo out on a 7Ē?Ē So it wouldnít really be a demo, it would just be a 7Ē or whatever. He agreed to do it; then he talked to Al and wanted to see if Al would help out and do a split release. So thatís what ended up happening.
Sean: Danís label is called Double Down records. I donít know what theyíre doing now, but just as Eric said, I donít think they wanted to be super serious with it. It was kind of like a hobby of theirs, to put out records.
Scene Point Blank: You guys didnít want to put your record out on a label that did something like the RíníR/Suicide File split, where kids would never get it?
Sean: Yeah. Iíve known Kyle for years now, heís always been an awesome dude. He really follows through with what he does. Heís already doing an amazing job with that title. It was kind of like an obvious choice once he approached us.
Scene Point Blank: Rival or Rivalry?
Sean: Rivalry is flowing off of my tongue a little bit better now than it was before. He didnít have a choice, so itís kinda what you got to do. I donít think itís a bad name.
Scene Point Blank: What does Rebuild mean to you?
Sean: We come from Providence, Rhode Island. Thereís so many different kids there. Like crust punks, hardcore kids, straight edge kids, all sorts of different people there. Everything is pretty divided. Still, wherever you go itís fairly divided as far as that stuff goes. As long as people can behave, act normal and not be dicks/complete assholes, Iíd like to see them all come together and be able to have a good time at a show. Thatís pretty much what I had in mind was with Rebuild. Just likeÖsomething for everybody. Rebuild the scene, like a community. A hardcore/punk community including everybody, not leaving anybody out.
Scene Point Blank: With the word rebuild it brings thoughts of starting over, so were they any main negatives there is currently going on?
Eric: Yeah, this growing thing with violence at shows lately in a lot of scenes. I donít think anybody should have to be afraid to be at a show. The whole reason weíre here in the first place is because of this community. We should feel comfortable with that. For anybody to make anybody feel uncomfortable with that situationÖdoesnít make any sense.
Sean: I was scared growing up in some of the neighborhoods I did and my surroundings. I found hardcore and it was a safe place I could go. To see it be like a scary place now? That sucks. Thatís where I went to escape all that shit. It kills me to see things go to shit.
Scene Point Blank: What youíre kinda saying is that hardcore can be a sanctuary from everything that sucks and that place you go to is scaring you, so where are you supposed to go then?
Sean: Yeah. Iíll be honest, I havenít and I donít think I ever will, but at times I get so bummed out at some shows that I go to I think about walking away. And never turning around. I think this is a stray away of itís original intent, what hardcore/punk was supposed to be. As I said, itís supposed to be about community, helping each other out, teaching people about new and different things, opening peopleís minds, not beating the fucking piss out of everything. Thatís self defeating if youíre going to treat it like that.
Eric: The biggest problem is, I donít think anybody realizes it, thereís really nothing to prove. Youíre here. Obviously, you have some fucking problems if youíre here. You have some social problems, some problems growing up, some problems at home, thatís why youíre here. You should be taking it on the outside world than our own world. People need to realize that.
Scene Point Blank: On the opposite spectrum of things, what would you say your favorite things about hardcore today are?
Sean: I wanna word this right because I donít want to offend anybodyÖpeople that youíd assume were the typical tough guy dude or might-be-an-asshole, you might pigeon hole and think theyíre an asshole, then you meet them. This happened very recently to me. I didnít think they were bad people or anything like that, I just wasnít sure. Then I met them, they were amazing fucking people. They let us stay at their house. To me that was awesome.
Scene Point Blank: If someone could get one message from your band, what would you like it to be?
Eric: Thinking for yourself, standing on your own two feet. Not worrying about what other people are doing. Just doing what you do. Not worrying about what other people are going to think about what youíre doing. Standing up for yourself, standing on your own two feet.
Scene Point Blank: You guys have a pretty original sound, what would you say your main influences to create this different sound?
Eric: I think a lot of it has to do with the five of us have different backgrounds basically. Thereís common points where we can come together. But thereís definitely a broad spectrum of stuff where we all draw different influences from. When our influences come together it makes something that sounds different. I donít think we necessarily try to sound different, we just do our own thing.
Sean: I think weíve fallen into our sound. Iím sure itíll probably progress from where it is now. But itís not like we set out to sound a certain way. Itís just how it came about and how it ended up sounding. Thatís us. Thatís Verse. Thatís what comes out of us.
Scene Point Blank: Have you started writing new material since Rebuild?
Eric: We havenít really practiced yetÖ
Sean: Officially since June or something.
Eric: Our writing process is the weirdest thing ever. You wouldnít comprehend how we do it.
Sean: Itíd boggle your mind.
Eric: I think individually I think Sean and I have some stuff that weíre working onÖWe havenít really come together and worked together on anything as a band. I know for myself Iíve been working on some new stuff and new ideas.
Scene Point Blank: Itís just a matter of getting together and practicing?
Eric: Yeah, getting us together. Weíre kind of in a situation right now where we donít have practice space.
Sean: I have half of the record written lyrically.
Scene Point Blank: Are there any songs that you could let us preview, in terms of what theyíre about?
Sean: The record is going to be called From Anger And Rage.
Scene Point Blank: Do you have a label yet?
Sean: Iím going to say Rivalry just because we love Kyle. Hopefully heíll have us again. Itís going to be called From Anger And Rage. The line where the album name comes from is, ďFrom anger and rage comes rebellion.Ē Basically, not just in the hardcore and punk scene, but anywhere, if youíre pushed and pushed long enough and far enough sooner or later youíre going to start rebelling against something because you can only take so much. You can only take so much oppression in the world, again, just not the hardcore/punk scene, in general before you fucking break and start rebelling. And before you start searching for something else thatís more you. Not necessarily a violent rebellion but a personal rebellion. Thatís what itís going to be about pretty much.
Scene Point Blank: So is this going to be angrier?
Sean: Lyrically, probably.
Eric: Musically it might be a little heavier at times but definitely on some songs not so heavy. Definitely, overall musically, a more dynamic record.
Scene Point Blank: Still really melodic?
Eric: Definitely. Thatís my thing. Maybe structure wise a little more creative. Definitely instrumentally I think weíve grown a little bit skill wise.
Scene Point Blank: So pushing the boundaries musically?
Eric: Iíd get bored otherwise.
Sean: Lyrically, Iím just probably getting a little more personal this time around. A lot of things that Iím angry about with my feelings and with my life and whatnot. So itís probably going to come out on this record.
Eric: Hopefully weíll see a trend because with a lot of bands in the state of affairs in the world today thereís just not really too much anger.
Sean: Shitís fucked up and everybody, well not everybody, but a lot of people are so passive. I wake up everyday and Iím not contenpt at all with what the fuck is going on in the world or in my community or with my friends/peers/family or anybody. It fucking tears me apart. Hopefully people will start writing about that.
Scene Point Blank: It seems like in the 80s there was a lot more political anti-Reagan things. But today with Bush it doesnít even seem like thereís much going on.
Eric: Youíre not. Musically youíre not.
Scene Point Blank: Yeah, thereís protests. But not much in hardcore.
Sean: Everybodyís too busy waiting for the next fucking mosh part to worry about what the fuck is going on this world.
Scene Point Blank: Sometimes when singers talk in between songs some people say itís preaching. Then thereís the opposite where people say itís helpful. What do you think?
Sean: Itís inspiring.
Eric: Iíd like to see more of that in the hardcore scene. I feel like itís at a point where, not even that having something to say is shunned, but bands donít have anything to say.
Sean Again, lack of substance in the hardcore scene.
Scene Point Blank: Lack of message.
Sean: Lack of a lot of things.
Eric: A lot of candy coated sugar pop ideas.
Sean: Badly recycled things too.
Scene Point Blank: I donít know if youíve seen this site before, but what are your thoughts on conservativepunk.com?
Sean: We looked at it once. Dave Smalley, good job, buddy.
Eric: What the fuck is up with that.
Scene Point Blank: You guys arenít a part of that?
Sean: Sorry dudes out there, but if youíre punk, I donít know if you can be conservative. It seems a little wrong.
Scene Point Blank: What are your top three hardcore bands from the 80s?
*silence from thinking*
Sean: Fuck, that is so tough.
Sean: Iíll let you frigging do this first.
Eric: Youth Of TodayÖÖ.UhhhhÖ.Minor Threat andÖ.ummmm
Sean: Minor Threat, Bad Brains and Scream.
Eric: Iím gonna go with Bad Brains too.
Sean: You canít go wrong with the classics.
Eric: Canít, how could you?
Scene Point Blank: What have you been listening to lately?
Sean: Into Another, Burn, Inside Out, mostly what weíve been listening to in the van. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, stuff we probably shouldnít be telling you.
Eric: What happens in the van stays in the van.
Scene Point Blank: Any Soundgarden?
Eric: No, but we donít have Soundgarden stuff in the van.
Scene Point Blank: How has the tour been so far?
Sean: Every show has been totally awesome. Hanging out with Guns Up and Have Heart has been absolutely awesome cause theyíre already really good friends of ours. I love both of those bands so itís just been awesome.
Eric: Both of those bands areÖI thinkÖtwo of the most inspiring bands in hardcore right now. I rock that Have Heart record nonstop. Lyrically I think thatís one of the best records. It has helped me out that I know Pat on a personal level. Just to know that somebodyís that sincere about what heís saying in his band is just awesome.
Scene Point Blank: Do you have any funny road stories so far?
Sean: Brian and Justin. Thatís all I have to say.
Eric: Funny tour storiesÖwe have raves in the van.
Sean: Weíve had dance parties in the van.
Eric: New yearís EveÖ
Sean: Weíre going 80 MPH down the highway having a dance rave party.
Eric: It has to be at night so you can see the glow of the cell phones spinning around in the van.
Sean: The van shaking around. The driver scared shitless also dancing.
Eric: We had to cancel our Atlanta show on New Yearís Eve. At the stroke of midnight in a parking lot outside of the club we totally had a rave. That was mostly Pat and Ryan from Have Heart.
Sean: Dancing in front of a camera, jumping on top of the van.
Eric: Itís all on video.
Scene Point Blank: So you guys are big into dance?
Sean: Iím not. But it was fun.
Eric: Singing real loud to Queen in the van yesterday was a good time.
Scene Point Blank: Do you have trouble juggling school/work with touring?
Eric: See the problem is that I just donít like to work. So itís not even a problem.
Eric: I work four days a week.
Sean: I work in an Army Navy store. Hopefully I still do have a job when I call in tomorrow to see if I still have the job.
Eric: Iím actually getting paid to be on tour right now.
Sean: Yeah, heís hooked up. He works at a Whole Foods. I donít have that.
Scene Point Blank: How did everything go at your first show ever as Verse?
Sean: Jeff from Youth Attack set that up. Desperate Measures, First Step, Youth Attack, us, Sex Positions and My Revenge played. It was awesome.
Scene Point Blank: Do you have an ideal burrito? I donít know if you have those on the East CoastÖ
Sean: We have what you might refer to as burritos, not very good.
Eric: Donít even bother.
Sean: Thereís this place called Bomberís in Albany, New York that has vegan chicken burritos. Insanely good. So friggin good. But other than that, thereís nothing that can even touch the West Coast burritos. Canít even compare or get close.
Scene Point Blank: If you could do a split with any band still together what band would it be?
Eric: I would say, for myself, Iíd love to do a split with Have Heart.
Sean: Iíll give you the weirdest answer ever, itís Dropdead. Because, what the hell, theyíre from our home town.
Eric: Thatíd be awesome, Iíd back that.
Scene Point Blank: Whatís your favorite part about Providence?
Eric: The diversity, probably, Iíd say.
Scene Point Blank: Do you have any local bands that might not get a lot of attention from that area youíd suggest checking out?
Sean: This band Get Killed. Theyíre kinda like thrashy punk/hardcore band. All Those Opposed, theyíre a punk/hardcore band too kinda along the same lines. The Nightmare ContinuesÖ
Eric: Theyíre a grindy death metal. But theyíre gonna change their style.
Sean: But donít be sold on that one just yet. Thereís this band Learn. I actually played drums for them for a little while. Theyíre an awesome band, just straight up hardcore.
Eric: Shred The Past.
Sean: Are they still playing?
Eric: Yeah, they just put that demo out.
Sean: Yeah, thatís a good amount.
Eric: That might be it for right now.
Scene Point Blank: Do you have any last words?
Sean: We love California and weíll be back.
Scene Point Blank: Just so you know, this is going to be on a website so itís going to be all over the place. Itís okay if you still love California though.
Eric: Thatís okay, everyone needs to know.
Scene Point Blank: I agree.
Eric: Or if we could, whatever state theyíre checking out the site from, make it say that state. That exact location. Like, ďWe love 69 Bonar St. Albuquerque, NM.Ē
Scene Point Blank: I donít have the internet skills for that yet.
Eric: I donít think anybody does, but thatís okay.
*even more laughter*
Scene Point Blank: Alright, thank you guys!
Photographs and interview conducted by Zed.
Photoshop and layout by Michael.