Digging through a box of old zines last week, I came across an interview I did with Jared and Justice of Trapped Under Ice back in 2009. It originally appeared in a zine I did called Backlash along with interviews with Naysayer and Backtrack and a few pseudo-intellectual rants about politics and social injustice that are pretty embarrassing in retrospect. Trapped Under Ice had just released the split with Dirty Money and were working on writing their first full-length LP. They’d come up to play a benefit show for Kev One after getting stuck in traffic after missing their show NYC show with the Cro-mags the previous month.
We’d met the summer before. I was roadie-ing for CDC and ended up spending a good deal of time packed into the back of their conversion van along with all their gear. The band looked a little different then. Ben and Klipa were still playing, Fiacco was filling in and Anton had come along to sell merch. With a crew like that, we found ourselves in some of the most ridiculous situations and looking back, I’m still not sure how the band managed to function as well as they did through that era.
I’d only just moved to New York City a few months before the tour. I hadn’t met anyone in Backtrack yet and probably could have counted the number of NYC – friends I had made so far on one hand. I was slightly nerdier then, with a much poorer taste in music, but so were they and we kept in touch after the tour ended. In the years to come our paths would cross again and again. A few months after we did this interview, they wound up sleeping on the wood floors of my tiny Bedstuy apartment for two weeks when they came back to record their LP. I started to roadie for Forfeit and we found ourselves on tours together a couple more times before they eventually took my band out on tour as well.
A few weeks ago I watched them play their last show at This is Hardcore in Philadelphia. After more than a half-dozen tours, numerous fests, and regional shows I’ve probably seen them play more sets than I ever will any other band. I felt a strange mix of nostalgia and awe watching them play, flipping back through the countless memories, watching them grow and change as a band and individuals as well. Interviews have a strange way of capturing a particular moment and I think this one does that particularly well. The conversation recalls a time of excitement and naïveté on the part of both theirs and mine, hopeful for the future and entirely oblivious as to the things that would come.
Are you guys out on tour right now or did you just come up for the KevOne benefit?
Justice: We just finished a tour with Full Blown Chaos, Reign Supreme and Dirty Money. We got done with that last week and we had the week off and then we came up for a one off.
Jared: We came up for this show because we were supposed to play a Cro-mags show at the Knitting Factory like… how long ago was it?
Justice: Like a month ago, yeah. Well more than that, two months ago.
Jared: No a month ago because it was right after Christmas, and we were sitting in traffic. So this is a make-up show.
Overall how did that tour with Full Blown Chaos, Dirty Money and Reign Supreme go?
Justice: Well there were some technical details that could have gone smoother. But there turnouts were good for the most part. A lot of kids were really into Dirty Money, which was our major goal. You know to help them out and get them some exposure in the US, take them on tour and I feel like it went real well. They were well received; people were into it every night pittin, fucking buying merch. Every night after the show I always saw a circle of people around Graham just like asking him stories. Did you catch that every night?
Why does that dude have some crazy stories?
Justice: Not really he’s just like a…
Jared: He’s like a social butterfly, he’s always talking to everybody.
Justice: Which is good you know? In a touring band you know what I mean, from another country.
Jared: The tour was cool but it could have been better.
What do you guys normally do when you’re home for an extended period of time? Is it hard adjusting back to normal life? It seems like lately you’ve been out a lot.
Jared: Playing in a touring band is definitely like… I mean you get home and unless you live with your parents or have some cool hook up, you come home from tour and you come home broke. You come home and you had a job, you come back from tour and you have to call your old bosses up hoping you can get your old job back or something. I always end up just doing whatever, throwing something up on ebay or you know. I don’t have that much stuff to pay for since I’m gone a lot.
Justice: Slowly and slowly after every tour you lose more and more…
Jared: Yeah you just get deeper and deeper into a hole.
Justice: Yeah like I had a good job with John Hopkins and then after we started touring a little bit I had to get rid of that. And then slowly and slowly selling off everything cool I had on ebay to pay bills. And now I just get home from this tour and I’m in debt with my car insurance so I have to sell my car now to try to make up the debt you know to pay off late fees with the car insurance and all that shit. So now I’m without a car and it just goes on and on. I’m sure soon enough I’ll be homeless or some shit and sell my dog. God forbid.
I always hear you talking about your dog, can you tell me a little about him?
Justice: I have two dogs, one of them is Spike. He’s an English bullterrier and Roxy, she’s an adopted pitbull mix. They’re cool. I like dogs a lot and I guess I talk about my dogs a lot. I have a tattoo of Spike. It’s definitely for me, I don’t know if it’s a normal thing. It’s definitely a big part about touring that sucks. I legitimately miss my dogs every night you know? Along with my girl, my family you know, but it’s like an added… can’t take the dogs on tour. I want to take Spike on tour, we’re getting his balls snipped against my better judgment. But I think after lots of debating, it might be the right decision and after that they’ll agree to let me start taking him around on weekends and shit.
Can you tell me the story of how you found Klipa and decided to get him in the band?
Justice: Klipa played in local metal bands and I saw him around. He knew who I was and I knew who he was but we’d never been formally introduced. I went to this party and as soon as I walked in the door Klipa was just conducting mayhem, it was insane. There was a pumpkin in the window and Klipa was all drunk and someone was like, “Klipa that pumpkin’s talking all this shit, fuck him up!” So Klipa runs and punches through the window and he’s like knocking people’s pictures off the wall, like family pictures and shit. And the dude that owns the house was like, “Hey man look this is my house can you just chill out?” And immediately he was like, “I haven’t done anything wrong fuck you, it was this guy over here.” And he’s pointing at some little kid. So the guy turns around to look at the little kid and Klipa shakes up a beer and throws it against the wall and beer’s spraying everywhere. Then he starts clearing tables full of glass and is like kicking over tables and going crazy, so good. All the dude’s friends grabbed Klipa up and are like, “Yo, you need to go.” And Klipa starts hitting kids, yelling, “Don’t fucking touch me I’ll go when I want.” So they finally talked to him and they’re like you know, “Please leave, we don’t want any trouble.” And he’s like, “Alright I’ll go, but I’m taking this with me.” And he bends down and starts unplugging the wires for an Xbox and walks out of the house with the Xbox. And as he walked out the door, I was like, “Yo, that kid’s name is Klipa right?” And they’re like, “Yeah,” and I was like, “Yo, I need him to play guitar in my band!” So I started hitting him up and we were supposed to start jamming. We were supposed to practice for the first time and I call him up and I’m like, “Yo what’s up? Practice.” He’s like, “Aw fuck man, I just got this job… in Florida… on the beach like taking pictures for stoges.” I was like, “What the fuck, what are you doing” How’d that happen, how are you going to play with us?” And he’s like, “Yeah I don’t know man, I want to play with you guys, I’ll figure something out.” And then a week later he got kicked out of Florida for fucking being bad as shit and lost his job and the police told him to never come back.
Jared: Yeah he’s kind of banned from Florida.
So you guys just did a split with Dirty Money, how did you get hooked up with them to do the split?
Justice: Our friend Ian plays in Lion of Judah. He lives in England part time and lives in Maryland just South of Baltimore the other half of his time. He goes to shows over there and met all those guys. So he was telling me about them and I checked them out and I liked them, everyone in the band liked them. Dom from A389, he’s friends with some of those guys and he presented the idea of doing a split. And we kind of established a relationship on the internet, talking a lot, and I guess trying to promote each others bands a little bit. Then we did the split and went over there to tour and they helped us out a whole lot. Like we got robbed and they were super helpful to us. Then they came back and toured over here.
It seems like on that split you changed up the kinds of things you’re talking about a little bit from the Stay Cold EP and the Demo. What kinds of things are you trying to address on the two new songs?
Justice: I feel like with the demo, lyrically it was more vulnerable. You know what I’m saying? Like being heartbroken and young and shit like that. Then with Stay Cold, more of my take was kind of you know being bummed and shit but at the same time presenting the idea of staying cold, staying strong and you know, overcoming those things. Since I’ve written that stuff and when I’ve written the split and the stuff I’m writing now, I guess you know, my life’s changed a lot and I’m sure I’ve become a little more mature as a person. Everybody’s got some kind of issue or another and my issue is like, from two years ago you know when I wrote the Demo it changed. Like “Death Clock Ticking” is about, if you know the lyrics to the song, it’s about people dying around you. I’m at an age where I can look back and consider how many people have died when I was younger and how many kids I grew up with and went to school with. Everyday I hear about somebody dying, somebody got murdered, my family overdosing. It’s real depressing, it makes you realize how short life really is and that you could be next, anytime, anybody can go, nobodies above that. Then “Gemini” is about more of a mental battle. Having two different… I don’t have two different personalities, or any shit like that, but I feel like everybody’s always got something inside themselves that’s conflicting with the other beliefs they have, you know? And it kind of touches on that idea, and the idea of other people doing the same thing and how it affects your life. It’s kind of a broad song subject, but I kind of wanted that. I like that idea of not being a very clear thing and it being perceived lots of different ways.
Yeah and more kids can relate to it that way too.
Justice: Yeah I think it’s cool when kids are like, “Yo, what the hell is that song even about?” or like you know, “I know that song is about this…” and its about some shit I don’t even know what they’re talking about.
What’s the deal the with the LP, is that going to be out anytime soon?
Jared: We’re spending the rest of this month writing, finishing putting songs together and stuff and tightening stuff down. We’re going to practice every weekend and then the first week of March we’re going to… what’s it called? Arctic?
Justice: Wild Arctic.
Jared: Wild Arctic, it used to be Atomic. We’re going to record there for like 10 days and then it’s going to come out… what is it?
Justice: Late May. It’s a good possibility we’re going to record everything on the split and then we have maybe like 7 to 9 songs done otherwise. And then some other stuff we’re going to see if it’s ready, you know?
It seems like there are always a lot of people complaining about the current state of hardcore. But lately it seems like a lot of NYHC sounding hardcore bands have surfaced. What would you attribute that to, do you think it’s just another passing trend in hardcore or do you think it will stick around?
Justice: I think to some degree, to some kids it’s a passing phase. There are some kids that jump from one thing to the next. It’s not necessarily a bad thing… well it is, but it’s not, you know? People are going to jump on different trends and keep changing how they feel about stuff and it’s like, I feel like for the most part this is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time. These are riffs we wrote in our old band and shit, we’ve always thought we wanted to do. And we’re inspired by bands that meant so much to me when I was a kid. I mean like VOD, Crown of Thornz, 25 ta Life, Madball. There’s definitely some people that are coming up and newer bands that are coming up and you know really… how am I trying to explain this? There are some kids that are fucking with it. This is their thing and that’s going to be them.
Jared: There’s always bands that come along and do their thing and then of course other people kind of follow and jump on that and that’s the cool way to sound.
Justice: Some bands I would like to say that are doing their thing and are legit. Like Bad Seed, those dudes are into heavy music and it’s cool. They’re not like your typical heavy music looking kids, they’re little skinny ass kids. But they love it and they wrote a great demo and they wrote a great 7-inch. Like Naysayer from Richmond, you know kind of got like a New York feel a little bit but at the same time a lot of other influences. They’ve been doing that for a minute and that’s their thing. You can hear a band and you know off the bat if they really love the band or if they’re trying to mimic something.
Jared: Yeah it’s not hard. You can listen to it and tell whether or not it’s sincere. Whether or not they really know the influences they’re drawing from and not like a band from the past year or something.
Justice: Yeah, we’re here at the KevOne benefit and it’s real cool to see all the bands on this show, it’s insane. It feels like a show I would have seen when I first got involved like you know 10 years ago. You’ve got girls holding down the pit right now and big grown men with bandanas over their eyes and you know there’s nobody trying to look a certain part. Like you don’t have some dudes in here dressed up pretty or whatever. Everybody’s kind of doing their own thing, nobody’s dancing to impress anybody and I feel like it’s the same thing with all the bands, just doing their own thing. I really like this lineup a lot, it’s been a great night, like an energy boost for me, you know? It renews my faith in the things I love about hardcore.
Yeah it seems like especially out of Baltimore, there are a lot of good bands out right now like Stout, Brick, Pulling Teeth and Backhand. How would you say Baltimore figures in on a national level with other hardcore bands?
Justice: As far as the bands that come out of Baltimore, it’s not a lot. It’s not like millions of bands are coming out of Baltimore. I feel like there’s definitely some good bands, some good classic bands like Stout. Stout’s been doing their thing for a long time. Their old shit as well as their new shit is great. We had Slumlords for a minute, there’s a band called Harsh Truth. They were doing their thing, then they weren’t doing their thing, then they were doing their thing again and I guess they’re not doing their thing now. We have like Gut Instinct, the first Baltimore hardcore band and that was years and years ago. I see a lot of people rocking Gut Instinct shit now. But nationally I feel like a lot of people don’t recognize Baltimore for what it is, you know? I mean it’s not like the biggest, greatest scene to produce all this shit. But for a long time tours were coming to the East Coast and just skipping over Baltimore. And it’s a really cool scene because the kids are really open minded. You can play any style of music and people will feel it. You can come see Stout and you’ll see half the same kids you see when you see us and you’re going to see half the same kids you’re going to see when you see Ruiner or Pulling Teeth. But currently I gotta give respect to Pulling Teeth since they’ve been super active and making a name for our area and Brick’s a new band that’s been super active. There’s a lot of younger bands who are starting to do little tours and shit like that. This band Bad Habit, Blind the Thief, this band called Alarmed that tours a bit. They’re not our style but those kids are legit hardcore dudes that love, really do care. Those are the kids I see at every show you know, booking the shows and I see them out on tour trying to help out other bands. It’s cool, I’m really happy with the way things are. There’s always room for improvement. It’s never been the mecca of hardcore, but it’s a very respectful hardcore scene and I think people are starting to come on to that a little bit.
How did you guys originally get into hardcore and what made you want to start doing bands?
Jared: I got into hardcore through punk and that was from Thrasher magazine pretty much. I was into skateboarding then I would go see badns sometimes. The first big hardcore show I went to was Buried Alive in like 1999 or something, that was pretty life changing. But I mean as soon as I started going to shows and seeing touring hardcore bands, just 5 dudes just chilling and always hanging out. Just get out of van and just hang out in the city. And then they’re at a show every night, I was just hooked. I set this weird personal goal for myself, “I gotta be in a band, I gotta go on tour.” It seemed like the craziest thing every and now I can’t seem to be home enough. I’m always stuck on tour, not like I’m complaining. When I was younger It was just the craziest thing. My biggest goal was to get to Europe.
Justice: The thing is like I’m kind of sick of tour right now since we just got off tour. But in like a week I’ll be like, “Fuck, I need to get back on tour.”
Jared: Everybody loves to complain about it because you’re broke and homesick sometimes and stuff but the second I’m home and as soon as I have a job I’m just looking for a way to get back on tour.
Justice: For me it was the same thing, skateboarding, punk rock, hardcore. Me and my homies would skate when I was a little kid, even before Middle School. When I was a young ass kid I had a bunch of older friends who played in punk rock bands. I had a guitar and didn’t really know how to play it, was just into whatever music. But those kids asked me to jam with them and I jammed with those dudes. Some of those dudes are still in hardcore bands no in Baltimore you know and I’m still in hardcore bands. I have a cousin who got me into a lot of hardcore bands. Originally when I was going to like punk rock shows seeing like Good Riddance or like… what other punk rock bands came around… more Fat Records bands, shit like that. And then the friends I would skate with in like Middle School, maybe like 6th grade, we would skate in front of my friend’s house and he a big ass boombox and we’d listen to whatever random new metal radio shit you know. It wasn’t until I started a punk rock band actually with the dude that sings in Ruiner now and some other friends and we got doing a couple shows and I sarted getting really captured by it. I started going to every show I could and finding out about all kind of new hardcore bands and it just slowly takes over your life. And now I’m fucking in New York City… playing in a hardcore band and I have nothing else.
Are the same types of things that originally got you into hardcore the same things that keep you interested today? Or did you get into it for one reason and discover something else that keeps you coming back and doing bands now?
Justice: I’d say both. There’s definitely new surprising things. I find new bands that have a surprisingly new sound or are doing their new thing and are really cool. And there are bands that attract me because it reminds me of what it was like when I first came out. Like when I said this show reminds me of something that I frist would see you know? Just like a lot of diversity, people doing whatever they wanted. There’s nobody really having an ego in there, there’s nobody trying to be a tough guy. Everybody’s having a good time, letting loose. It’s like everyone’s welcome to have fun right now. And that’s how it was when I was a kid. You know, you got hurt and shit. Like I remember my first hardcore show, getting kicked in the balls in the mosh pit and shit like that and being like, “Aw that was great.” And getting popped in the nose, but it wasn’t malicious or anything. It was the same thing, but 10 years later. I feel like hardcore does recycle itself and every so often you’re going to get bands doing a sound that happened so long ago, but there’s also bands coming up and doing new things and giving me a whole new reason to appreciate hardcore.
Jared: The further you dig into it too. When you first start going to shows the excitement is like you know this is omething new, it’s crazy and scary and stuff. But then you start doing a band or something and a whole other world opens up. You’re going out of town and you’re recording and that’s a whole new exciting thing and you’re meeting new people. That’s the whole thing about going on tour is meeting so many people, just having friends all over the country, all over the world now. Going all these places and keeping in touch with them and the more you meet kids in bands the more you get to go hang out with them and stuff. You’re always going to find more things that are exciting about it. Even when I don’t feel like going on tour anymore I’m still going to want to do something to do with hardcore. So I wont’ be getting so floored from getting in a van and being broke all the time. I can be home and have a job but I can still put out my friends’ bands’ records or can do a zine or I can do shows or something like that. I can still do something related to hardcore so it’s just all what you make of it. For me anyway I can always just find new things, every time I go to a show or something or find out about a new band, it’s still exciting.
Justice: Yeah and on that idea of finding new things. One of the cool things about hardcore is that every city has like their big bands and their little secret hidden bands. And it’s like I find out about new bands, I find out about old bands that are new to me all the time. Like today One 4 One played and I’ve heard the name a million times and I’ve seen live footage but I’ve never really got to sit down and listen to them. And I just saw them today and they were awesome. It’s just a band that went over my head for so long and you’re just always finding out about new things. We might go on a trip to California and somebody will put in something and it will be like, “Damn, what the fuck is that band? I’ve never heard that shit.” “Oh well that’s fucking so and so.” It’s cool.
Alright well that’s all I’ve got. Are there any bands you thing kids should check out?
Jared: Naysayer from Richmond, band of 2009. Bad seed from Wilkes Barre, are they from Wilkes Barre? Yeah, Bad Seed.
Justice: Backtrack from Long island.
Jared: Backtrack, what else?
Justice: I haven’t heard your band yet. Short End. But I mean knowing who’s in it and shit like that I see a lot of promise, you know?
Jared: Foundation is a pretty good band from Atlanta. I mean they’ve been around for a minute, but they’re going to do big stuff in 2009.
Justice: The Baltimore band Brick. Alpha and Omega, they’re new still.
Jared: Violation, I guess they’ve been around for a minute but they’re still pretty new.
Justice: Pretty much that whole Reaper Comp it seems like, that’s all.
Jared: That says a lot about Reaper then.
Justice: Yeah anything Reaper’s doing. They’re putting out some new Death Threat shit, putting out some new Maximum Penalty shit, new Trapped Under Ice, some new Forfeit, new Naysayer, what else he’s got? That fool’s busy, got a lot of shit coming out. Keep in touch with that, check that out.