Gabby from Detroit's Bill Bondsmen tipped me off to these Californian Rock n Rollers and despite an arduous and frustrating time getting hold of their albums, it was worth it. Think prime time 70s rock chops - Black Sabbath/ Deep Purple, throw in a pinch of 80s HC ala Black Flag/Bl'ast and you get the picture. Too High To Die? It's Annihilation Time...
Interview by Conan Troutman.
Gravy: Who are Annihilation Time?
Chris: Graham-guitar Shaun-guitar Jimmy-Vocals Tony-Drums Me (Chris) -bass
Shaun: The most incoherent shit's you'll ever have to deal with!
Graham: Just some dudes.
Jimmy: Annihilation Time are a bunch of rude a holes
Gravy: You guys seem to have found a perfect mix of 70s rock and 80s Hardcore, half Black Sabbath, half Black Flag....
Chris: That sounds about right. We like old punk and old heavy metal. But theres always one band or another doing something interesting in both genres.
Shaun: I'm sure I can speak for all of us on this. We all grew up in the punk/hardcore scenes, and along the way we picked up alot of influences from Black Flag, Bl'ast and these bands that had a lot of depth musically to 'em. So naturally we got hooked on the bands that were influencing those bands, and it just snowballed from there. So when it comes to the crap we pump out, you may hear as many Witchfinder General or Lucifer's Friend riffs as Black Flag or whatever. We just dig on kick ass tunes. When people ask what kind of music we like, we just tell 'em "HEAVY".
Graham: I'd say its more like half kid rock, half lesbian folk rock.
Jimmy: Theres much more to it than Flag and Sabbath. I'm sick of Flag! I like Circle Jerks better. They are less seious and way more profound.
Gravy: So did you grow up on metal and discover punk or vice versa?
Chris: I know I started off a metalhead, then I heard Misfits and Black Flag and kind of veered off to punk. But now I find more self listening to more and more metal/rock.
Shaun: I think Graham, Jimmy and I did. I remember my cousin was a metalist and I just heard what he had. The one that stuck out was the 1st Suiciadal Tendencies album, because it was so much more raw energy rather that all this "kill the dragon" metal stuff. After that, I sought out things like that. Ya know, Minor Threat, Seige, Poison Idea, etc. I liked GBH and all that stuff, but the whole fashion thing was goofy to me. I mean, studs and spikes and leathers cost alot of dough! and I was a poor ass fucker, so that shit was just as silly to me as some pimply faced suburbanite singing about sacrificing this and that to the dark one. The whole Oxnard thing has always been huge there. Like, Agression and Ill Repute are as big there as the Exploited might be in an English city somewhere. So Tony and Chris were into that stuff right off the bat. We still love all that stuff just as much as the day we first heard it and it ruined our lives!
Graham: I got into metal and a young age thanx to all the older cool kids on my block and head bangers ball. I used to tape all the tripple thrash threats. I later discovered punk when my friends older sister made me a tape with Misfits "Walk Among us" on one side, and Black flag "My War" on the other.
Jimmy: We all were into heavy metal in the 80s and early 90s before we found out about punk and hardcore. I think for me at least, punk was actually more pissed and raw than metal. I like heavy metal bands but I fuckin hate "metal" and "rock". Hardcore punk was sayin exactly what I was and am pissed off about instead of some kill the dragon falsetto bollocks! Celtic Frost is the be all to end all of heavy metal in my book.But Sabbath is the heaviest band, undisputable. If not for Sabbath no one would be heavy and let me just say that I hate the fuckin Beatles, Led Zepplin, and the fuckin Doors!
Gravy: Were you influenced by the Thrash metal/Crossover bands of the 80s?
Chris: Not so much me. Maybe the others. I honestly had not much interest in the mix of the too.
Gravy: Really I would have had you guys down as big fans of Slayer, Corrosion of Conformity, Venom etc?
Chris: The other dudes really love those bands. I like Slayer and COC. but yeah, the other guys would answer this question very differently. I've never been a fan of super fast stuff.
Shaun: Yeah, we like that stuff..I think I might more than any of the others. I really dig on old Exodus, later DRI, Nuclear Assault, etc.... it's too bad that stuff had such a shitty following. I can't stand alot of these metalist dudes running around with Overkill shirts thinking that life is like a Manowar song!
Graham: I've always dug metal. Growing up I was really heavy into Overkill.
Jimmy: Yes we all like crossover. I love DRI's Dealing With It lp. I like English crossover better than American. Like Hellbastard and Deviated Instinct and Concrete Sox, its more crusty. I like that sound and the shit they sang about. It was less fun, more serious. I hate Nuclear Assault and anything with a high voice. I kinda hate Anthrax. I wanna like em more than I do but they wank off too much. I like S.O.D. too.
Gravy: Do you think the metal influence was one of the factors that killed off 80s HC?
Shaun: I don't really know. When I hear older fellows that were around at the time talk about the crossover thing, they say it ruined alot of stuff. Like bands covering their own songs and turning them into bland metal tunes and dumb down their politics...like DRI. It seems that the crossover thing brought in a lot of meatheaded fans that were there to fuck shit up rather than help carry along the scene as a community. I'm sure that when kids started bands that were SOD/MOD influenced, things got pretty violent & macho and more intelligent punk/HC kids lost interest and dropped out.
Gravy: What influences AT apart from music?
Chris: Horror movies. Caddyshack. Retard movies in general. Lots of stupid shit. We do like to drink and smoke when we practice/play shows if thats what you're hinting at.
Shaun: Oh man... just look at the new album cover and it's obvious! aside from the constant mind numbing...Jimmy writes a shit ton about personal frustrations with the world (how cheesy did THAT sound). One tunes about a roadie that came along on one tour and stole shit from folks putting us up, claiming he fucked girls that he didn't and all this assholish shit without anybody knowing what was going on. Nothing too different from what any other punk rock bands would sing about. As for the music... probably electric razors, cars starting, crashes, zips, bleeps, pings and blams.
Graham: The twinkle in a childs eye.
Jimmy: I think growing up skating and hangin out with friends all the time is a major influence. At one point I think everyone of us skated a lot. Maybe even Tony bro. We all pretty much hate the establishment. We all like mountain dew and smokin grass and cigs. Graham, Shaun, and I were sXe when we were young. I was sXe cos all the burnouts I hung around with back in Parma wanted to drink and smoke weed and listen to Pink Floyd and the Doors and I was all "fuck that hippie shit". I like punk and I don't think drugs are very punk. Now a days I dont give a shit, I'll smoke grass and drink as much as I want but I still hate hippie dippy bullshit!
Gravy: You mentioned the cover of II there, it kinda reminds me of RKLs 'Lifestyles.. album - was that an influence on the artwork?
Shaun: Oh yeah! that whole record, cover and all, blows my fukkin' mind. Dan Sites is a pretty big influence on stuff I draw. The little RKL beanie boy puking in the corner is to pay homage to RKL. hopefully we won't get sued or anything...
Gravy: A lot of your shows have been with Oxnard core bands like Ill Repute and Dr Know; do you have a perticular affinity with these bands?
Chris: Of course. I grew up in Oxnard. I started collecting records so I could hear old bands like Agression, Dr. Know and Stalag 13. When I first got into punk you couldnt find that shit on Cd. But low and behold, once I do get most of the vinyl, it all starts getting re-released. When I was 16/17 I ordered an Ill Repute album and Tony Cortez brought it over to my house. But anyways, if you listen, those bands styles aren't different from what were doing at all. They're all punk bands that have guitar solos. I've seen old IR videos of them covering Deep Purple and Kiss.
Graham: Chris, Tony and myself all grew up in the general area, so all those bands were our heros as kids, and even now.
Jimmy: I don't think so. There was more when Fred was the singer. He was an old school dude. We're like middle school or somethin. We love the old nardcore bands and we love to play with them when it happens.
Gravy: I would love to hear Ill Repute doing Deep Purple.
Chris: Smoke on the Water. Its pretty cool. Ill Repute rules. I think our friend Mike Doan owns the video. It also has Aggression, where during the set Mark Hickey literally picks a dude up and throws him off stage. He's also wearing like 6 sleeveless shirts which he peels off one at a time during the course of the set. Weird.
Shaun: Pretty much the only reason AT's played with those bands was because the old singer Fred was and old Oxnard scenester and knew all those band from the 80's. Since he's a goner we don't play with many of those bands anymore. Locally, we pretty much just play with our friends bands or whoever we might bring through town. The only affinity with the old bands would be from us loving and growing up on their tunes. Not so much personally. They are aging and have families and don't come around or play much. Most of 'em have croaked or something.
Gravy: Fred's Dead??
Shaun: Naw, Fred's not dead. I just meant that a lot of dudes involved in the old nardcore scene got taken down by drugs and violence. A couple dudes from Agression are dead, the Stalag 13 guys are out of their minds from drugs, Jason Sears from RKL is on his death bed from heroin. It's pretty sad. but Fred's alright, I guess.
Gravy: Its obvious from the cover and lyrics on II that AT are not exactly a Straight Edge band; are you just trying to yank the sXe's chains with your pro 'wasted' attitude?
Chris:Haha no. If you see us on tour or at a show, we're probably wasted. We like beer and weed. We don't care whether someone is strightedge or not.
Shaun: We don't have a problem with the whole sXe scene, but when you play shows like that and hear things like, "I guess they were cool, but they look like junkies", it kinda gets your gall. The whole millitant holier than thou attitude of alot of edgers is just ridiculous. We were out on tour with Municipal Waste, who are know to endulge also, and got vibed out of this place we played for just drinking beer. I mean, they were pissed that we drank beer! we weren't even drunk and knockin' shit around or any of that. I respect folks who choose that as a personal thing because alot of folks have a reason for that, but a lot of kids are just kids that need a scene to glom onto and flex with like it's something that's so powerful, everything's gonna uproot the whole planet like some religion or something. That's what weak minded folks do. We don't think we're better than anyone for partying, like we've reached some plateu of our mind and have met the mountain wizard that's revealed to us the true meaning of life. That's bullshit. We just wanna have fun and anyone that wants to come with us, drugged beyond belief or sober as a judge, can come along.
Graham: I don't care about making any kind of statment like that. It's all about just doing what ever you want. We like to party.
Jimmy: I dont think we are trying to give sxe kids any deliberate shit but if they think I'm talkin to them then good. I think it rules when a singer is talkin shit and you think they are talkin right to you personally. The pictures or drawing and shit and probably some of the lyrics were just influenced by the time we were havin. There was a lot of substance going around, a lot of partying and long tours. The next album will be different still. You oughtta hear the beach house demo we made this summer. Those songs will be on the next record. I don't think we have a pro wasted attitude, we just tour and drinking, drugging and punking comes with the territory.
Gravy:The new album is definitely more 70s rock influenced than your debut; was this an intentional shift in style or more of a natural progression?
Chris: It was natural. Were not intending to do anything but write kickass tunes.
Shaun: It was pretty natural. We just started listening to more old rock stuff and letting it come out more. Plus there's no more Fred. Jimmy's more down for 70's stuff.
Gravy: Do you envisage the band moving even further in this direction on future tracks?
Chris: It will inevitably move further I think. But just same, it will move back too. I think were pretty good at mixing things up.
Shaun: I don't know how future stuff will sound... we'll just have to see what we can come up with! Pretty soon we might sound like "locomotion" era Grand Funk. who knows?! I wanna get more kazoos into the music. maybe a fleet of soul singers doing backups.
Graham: What ever we may end up sounding like, we'll always be a punk band. We just dont want to put out the same record over and over again.
Jimmy: Yeah were gona keep moving forward. You never know what Graham has learned how to do with his guitar. We're not gonna just stick to one generaliazed style so we can be the band of the minute, we're in it for the long haul and we dont give a fuck to be anything but what we wanna be and if the kids dig it awesome if not oh well we dont care
Gravy: Are you planning on any more cover versions; the Pink Fairies cover (Teenage Rebel) was excellent. Unusual choice of cover too...
Chris: We can never agree on covers. we kind of just stumble into them. The last two covers we were jamming were Wicked World (Sabbath) and 50 ways (Holier Than Thou). Those were just messing around in practice though.
Gravy: What's happening with the record label Manic Ride, they have released all your stuff up til now right?
Jimmy: Manic Ride re-released our first record. Actually Fred Hammer put it out on his label called Its Alive! and Gruggle payed for it. Manic Ride released our 7 inch and the cd version of the new album. Now the vinyl is out on Six Weeks. Also I wanna disspell any rumors people are talkin about the AT/Manic Ride split up. Me and Jon Collins hung out at Philly fest and talked and there is no bad blood. I think it's good to be on a new label. It's more personal so far on Six Weeks. Jeff and Athena are easy to get ahold of if we have any questions or wanna tell them a joke or something.
Chris: They are on a hiatus right now. Hes not releasing anything new for a while. That's why II never came out on vinyl for our record and several other bands on his label. We had Six Weeks records do the vinyl and various other labels are in the works for re-releasing stuff. But up until recently, MR had released all 3 of our albums.
Gravy: 3? I thought you had only made 2 albums, hence II?
Chris: I included the Bad Reputation e.p. Sorry.
Shaun: I'm not sure, but I think the label is folding and Jon's just going to concentrate on his distro, Crime. It was maybe just bad timing for us. Jon did alot of good for us and we thank him a zillion.
Gravy: I won't dwell on it here but that guy scammed me for $60 - I had to order the AT stuff through Amazon. I personally will NOT be buying anything through Crime. Argh Rant over. I need to let this bitterness go ha ha.
Shaun: I hate to say it, but I've heard that from several people. But $60 is $60 and I'd be raging, too!
Gravy: If you could record a split with anyone from the 50s/60s/70s/80s/90s/00s who would you choose and why?
Chris: Dang. Thats hard to answer, cuz you didnt really see splits till hardcore came around. But realistically, I'd like to do a split with Municiple Waste, but I dont know if Earache would allow that. That would be a kickass record.
Shaun: Geez! this is tough, man.
50's- Chuck Berry because of the video of him pissing on his woman (trust me, this exists!)
60's- Definitely the Banana Splits! who needs a reason!?!?
70's- Heino! Germany's sexiest singer! nuff said.
80's- Rodney Dangerfield.. yeah, that's it.
90's- My favorite country singer...Billy Aids Virus
00's- Municipal Waste! every time we bump into those asses it's the best time ever. Ask them about partying at the vietnam shack in Ventura.
Graham: I dunno, Chuck Berry would be cool. Thats one bad ass mother fucker.
Jimmy: We dont do splits.
Gravy: Why didn't you include the lyrics on the new album? Have you moved away from the more political/social lyrics of your earlier material?
Chris: Well, the LP has lyrics. The CD didn't cuz it was kind of rushed. For some reason it took me a while to convince Jimmy to actually write them down. I dont think he wanted them in there for whatever reason. His lyrics are more personal. Like about how shitty he and people he hangs out with are. Or like paranoid delusions and shit. He's kind of a political person though, and he touches on that everyonce in a while.
Shaun: After our euro tour, we all knida moved away to chill out and go back to work and all that. Then came time for the record layout and it was pretty much all up to Chris and Jon, so they never got the lyrics and the packaging was all rushed for the most part. The lp version was alot more satisfactory. It's even got the lyrics, so. I don't think the lyrics were ever political. Definitely social. But then again, it's a different dude writing that shit, so it changed in a way. Jimmy gets more creative, rather than just yelling, "YEEEEAAAH!" every measure or two.
Graham: Well, we got a new singer after the first record. Jimmy dosn't write political lyrics. That sort of thing dosn't interest us much. We're not that serious of dudes.
Jimmy: I didn't really like my lyrics at first. I was afraid of what pople would think. But then we put them in the vinyl version cos I don't want people to make mistakes and take the whole song out of context. The lyrics are still the same - social/ political fueled but also we dont gotta be serious all the time. We like to goof around too. Now the the new lyrics for what I'm writing are way more social political than the last album.
Gravy: Does politics have a place in music?
Chris: Yes. I was talking to this dude Pablo from Mexico and he's a firm believer that punk should only be played by the poor masses to spread social change. He's not totally right, but music should definately be used to that effect. Hes just missing out on the fun part.
Shaun: Yeah, if that's what you're passionate about and especially if you know what you're talking about. A lot of bands over the years just regurgitate fukkin' Dicharge lyrics and slap the political punk think on themselves without really knowing what the fuck they're saying. I'm not a political dude personally, but I've plainly seen so many folks get up on their political high horse only to be knocked off by their own hypocricy. I say, "the ones who toot their horns the loudest, might end up being the biggest hypocrites". I'm not saying fuck political bands or people, it's just when it gets to the point of someone being a self-reightious motherfucker, pointing his finger at people every chance they get so they can feel better about themselves, then there's a problem. A lot of slogans like "class war", and "anarchy" are a load of horse shit because the whole world is so sedated with their Seinfeld and they video games and reality television that there's so little that care. They might care, but how many are going to do something about it? In America, especially, most of these hardcore politacal people are only willing to attack other people that go to shows, rather that a real threat. like instead of going out and finding a group of nazi skinheads right in the middle of a fagbashing or something to yell at, they'll yell at a kid at a DIY punk show with a questionable band patch on. I've seen it a million times. But enough ranting...
Jimmy: I think politics do have a place in music. The rest of the band might not agree but they got guitars and shit. Political issues piss me off and that's part of what I write about. I like to get really pissed when I'm singing. Politcal issues make me fuckin rage when I think of how fucked up the world is and how the rich fuck the poor in the arsehole everyday. The balance of power and money is out of control and attention needs to be payed to it and something must be done. Singing about how loud you are is sweet but I'm just the singer, I dont got no loud hot rod amp, all I got is a mic. So I'm gonna sing bout what I love and what makes me mad and whats right and whats fucked up.
Gravy: Future Plans?
Graham:I would really love to hit up Japan and Australia some day.
Gravy: How can people get in touch?
Graham: Check out MySpace if you have a computer. We are very technologicly advanced.
Gravy: Shout outs or put downs?
Graham: Yeah, I would like to give a huge fuck off to that sorry shit bag cop in Texas who busted or buddy Noel for weed. Also, Canada for not letting us into there country. Oh yeah, and Bob Wilcocks for being a scetchy clepto maniac junky lowlife.
Shaun: Thanx for the interview and hopefully we'll see you in april.
Thanks to the AT guys for the taking the time out to do this. Cheers guys.