Interview: As Friends Rust [Groezrock 2015]

By Glen Bushell

It’s been a long time coming, but As Friends Rust finally made their return to Europe at Groezrock. Known for channelling raw emotion and unbridled honesty in their music, As Friends Rust have been a much beloved band by many since their inception in the late 90’s, and their slot on the Back To Basics stage saw them play a mind-blowing set.

Before that though, we caught up with vocalist Damien Moyal, and guitarist James Glayat to discuss the subject matter of As Friends Rust’s music, the influential Florida hardcore scene, and what the future holds for them.

How are you guys doing today?

Damien: Good!

James: Wonderful!

So this is your first time playing Groezrock?

Damien: Yes it is.

When was the last time you were over in Europe?

Damien: It was in 2008.

What made you decide to come back to Europe now?

Damien: We’ve have been contacted by Groezrock a couple of times, and it never worked out. We have all had a few big life events over the last year or so, but the invite came through again..

James: The clouds parted..

The stars just aligned?

James: Exactly!

Given that you guys have been involved in other hardcore bands such as Culture and Morning Again, how does As Friends Rust differ from those projects?

James: It’s way more of a personal experience I think. Those bands had more of a political undertone. Not that As Friends Rust doesn’t have political songs, but the songs have been more about personal relationships.

Damien: Even when it does touch on political themes, it’s more from a personal perspective. Like, how consumer culture makes me feel for example.

How did the warm up show at St.Vitus go earlier this week?

James: It was great!

Damien: One of the best shows we have ever played.

James: St. Vitus is a very nice rock club in Brooklyn, and I live not too far so it was kind of like a home turf advantage for me, but it exceeded my expectations by far. I didn’t really know what to expect, but we had tons of friends from the old days come in from out of town, and ton of kids that were too young to see us back in the day. But for me, to get to be in As Friends Rust, in New York, was a total wish fulfilment for me. My dad and my sister even came.

Damien: I was really expecting a lot of our old friends from Florida ending up there, so I was thinking it would be a lot of the old people from Florida that live in New York now, because they can get away with it now as they are just down the street, but people travelled from other states, some even from other countries.

I heard that people had travelled all the way from Germany?

Damien: Yeah it was crazy.

James: Yeah, I mean we were like “We are going to be right over that way anyway, probably be on the same plane home as you guys?!

How was your trip over to Japan last year?

James: Great!

Damien: It was awesome.

James: Japan is so much fun. You are treated very well, the shows were good, the people there are amazing, and the food is great. It’s like being on another planet because it’s so far removed from anything I experience on a daily basis. Again, it was total wish fulfilment.

Damien: I was there the year before with Culture, and the whole thing came about because we played with a band called Endzweck and they were wearing As Friends Rust shirts, and even did an As Friends Rust cover. So I was like, do people know As Friends Rust over here? And they said “Oh yeah, many more people actually”. Also Endzweck are awesome, and I told the guys when I got back that we need to go over there because there’s this amazing band we should tour with.

James: I was blown away by how good the bands in Japan were. Like Endzweck, and Noy.

Damien: They have that sort of Swedish thing going on. You know that when Swedes start a band it’s going to be executed fucking flawlessly. Japan is like the other Sweden, they are so good.

James: I have a theory on that, in the same way that Florida had such a crazy, niche market of hardcore bands. We were stuck out in the middle of the ocean and it’s not like we can go to the next state over and hang out with a bunch of different kids. There’s like 200 kids there that listen to hardcore and there are only so many permutations of those kids that will start bands, which is why a lot of the bands swapped members left and right. But that’s also how you develop a very scene specific sound.

It always seemed like there was a certain sense of pride about the bands in the Florida scene, and they wanted to let you know they were from Florida, would you agree?

James: Yeah, it’s almost like an island nation. We are a peninsula, and we are stuck so far out of the way.

Damien: We were probably over compensating for feeling so estranged and isolated from everything else that was happening in other scenes. We just said “Fuck it, we don’t need that”

James: I mean I’m 37, when I was like 14 and living in South Florida, a lot of bands didn’t tour all the way down because it didn’t make sense monetarily or they didn’t know how many people would come to their shows. A lot went to the top of Florida and then back up, they didn’t really come down into the panhandle. So we were kind of isolated from other bands, so we just made our own bands.

Damien: So with the exception of maybe a handful of really big bands that were big everywhere, our big bands were really just the local bands.

What does the future hold for As Friends Rust in terms of new music?

James: It’s slow coming, but it’s on its way.

Damien: We have been saying that for a while…

James: We all live very far from each other, and still adjusting as to how to do a band practice thousands of miles apart in the digital age.

Do any of you still live in Florida?

James: Joe and Caleb still live in Gainesville, I live in New York, Tim lives in LA, and Damien’s in Detroit. But that’s no excuse, I mean if The Postal Service managed to do it in 2002, then we should be able to pull it off now. But we’re cavemen with computers.

One final thing, are you going to come and play shows in the UK?

James: I would love too!

Lets make it happen then!

Damien: I will never turn down a chance to play at the fucking Underworld. We played there with Strike Anywhere in 2003, and on the reunion in 2008. We also had great times in Manchester and Leeds too.

James: Right before I left As Friends Rust, we were on our way to Ieperfest and got in a car accident and really hurt my knee. We played Ieper, and a couple more shows, then I flew home, but the Star and Garter in Manchester was my last As Friends Rust show in that incarnation, so that venue also has always been very dear to me.

You can pick up the vinyl and digital versions of the As Friends Rust compilation ‘Greatest Hits?’ via Shield Recordings, as well as the ‘Porch Days 1998 – 2000’ compilation from Demons Run Amok Records now.

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]