The Interrupters Interview
It’s weird; it’s almost like hearing our record for the first time because we don’t often play live with an organ player.
I mentioned earlier that the Warped Tour’s practice of scrambling their schedule every day caused me to miss Ghost Town, while I conducted an interview with Kevin Bivona, guitarist for The Interrupters. Well, as fate would have it, earlier in the day I missed The Interrupters to chat with Ghost Town. Fun interviews for sure, but on the downside, I missed this talented, distinctive ska band from Los Angeles who are quickly establishing themselves as a fantastic live band.
We carved out a little space in the press tent and had a fun, rambling chat about influences, the new record, brotherly dynamics, and the unofficial Fifth Interrupter. Read on for the details…
Cretin: When I hear your music, I feel that you are plowing new ground, delivering this brand of ska in a female-fronted band.
Kevin Bivona: I don’t know if I’d agree with that. What we’re influenced by in the two tone era is The Selecter with Pauline Black, female fronted, amazing ska band. Then there were the Body Snatchers with Rhoda Dakar which was an all female band and they were great. Then if you go into Third Wave, there’s No Doubt and Save Ferris, so there’s definitely been others. I like to think we’re doing our own thing, but I don’t think we’re exactly reinventing the wheel.
Cretin: Any other bands who have been influential?
Kevin Bivona: Madness, The Specials, Bad Manners and The English Beat. We were lucky enough to open up for them in L.A. and became friendly with them and they asked us to come out with them on a Midwest tour. That was a lot of fun.
Cretin: What’s been the dynamic of the band evolving with you three brothers?
Kevin Bivona: We grew up playing punk rock. I started out playing drums back during the grunge era. I decided I didn’t want to lug drums anymore and I wanted to play guitar. My brother watched me play drums and he became a pretty good drummer, and he far surpassed any of my drumming ability. He is a drummer at heart. And my other brother, Justin was the bass player by default. But, same thing, he’s a bass player at heart and he loves playing bass. He’s a really thoughtful good player.
Cretin: And you found your passion with guitar?
Kevin Bivona: Yeah sure. I think I’m an okay guitar player, but I like writing songs and I kind of like all of the instruments. I think I play everything okay but I don’t think I’m a guitar virtuoso, but it’s my most comfortable instrument live.
See our photo collection from the band’s Warped Tour set in Orlando: The Interrupters – Orlando
Cretin: You had a guest trombone player today?
Kevin Bivona: Billy (Kottage) from Reel Big Fish, but not only is he an awesome trombone player, but we found out on this tour that he’s great on keys and he’s covering all of our Hammond B3 parts from our record, and it’s weird; it’s almost like hearing our record for the first time because we don’t often play live with an organ player.
Cretin: Have you been on Warped before?
Kevin Bivona: This is our first one.
Cretin: How is the camaraderie with the other bands?
Kevin Bivona: We came into this knowing Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish having toured with them, so it was great to see them, like seeing old friends. We’re also making new friends out here and I’m looking forward to seeing more of the pop-punk side of Warped Tour.
Cretin: Do you get to see many other bands each day?
Kevin Bivona: Once you find out when you’re playing, your whole day revolves around your set time. It’s cool to go to the merch tent and try to sell t-shirts and hang out and talk to nice people such as yourself, so most of what we see is in passing. But when we finally do get that moment we see who’s playing and it’s like “Let’s go check out Pepper, or Sum 41’s playing, let’s go see Sum 41.”
Cretin: How has the response been for the brand new record?
Kevin Bivona: It’s been really good. We’re active on our social media and the feedback we’re getting has taken us aback. We put up a post asking what’s your favorite song on the new record , and pretty much every song was represented which means there’s something for everyone on the record. We are pretty proud of it, but you never know how people are going to feel about it.
Cretin: You’ve had a reputation of writing music with a social conscience.
Kevin Bivona: Our first record might be a little bit more politically focused and this one’s a little more socially focused. But we still have the political stuff: self empowerment, anti-government, but still friendship, family, diversity and unity; all of those good things that come with punk rock and ska. It’s an all-inclusive party.
Cretin: Do you all write when you’re on the road?
Kevin Bivona: A little bit. Sometimes we’ll come up with ideas on the road. Songs come when they come. Then we collect them and bring them to the studio.
Cretin: You’ve worked in the studio with Tim “Timebomb” Armstrong. How did that come about?
Kevin Bivona: On the Warped Tour in 2005, I got a job to play keyboards as a touring member for The Transplants, and I became friends with him from there and worked on a ton of music with him. And then he was right there when we started the band and produced our first record. He was like the fifth band member. When we’re hashing out songwriting or arrangements, he is right in there with us.
Cretin: He’s a damn good guy to be collaborating with.
Kevin Bivona: Oh totally and he’s super cool. He put our first record out on Hellcat and it was good enough to where they put out a second one. When it came time to do the second one, we had to put the same team together. It’s kind of our vibe, we work so well together.
Cretin: Have you ever toured with him?
Kevin Bivona: Our first tour was with Rancid. So before we had a record out, we toured with Rancid. And we opened up for them last year on a couple of one-offs, and they’ll bring us out when they can. They’re a great band. You talk about longevity. I mean Out Come the Wolves turned twenty years old last year and they did a couple of show where they played Out Come the Wolves start to finish and seeing them play that record and seeing the crowd and how much that record meant to those people – Seeing that, and how much they mean, and how they treat people, there’s just so much to learn.
Rumor has it that they’re putting together a fall headline tour including a hopeful stop in my hometown of Orlando, where I’ll finally get to catch them live.
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