Lawrence Arms

By paul

Having just signed to Fat Wreck Chords, US punks the Lawrence Arms are causing quite a stir stateside. Having released a couple of highly acclaimed records on Asian Man Records, the threesome are set to release their new record on Fat in early February 2002. Punktastic’s Paul Savage caught up with Brendan Kelly and found out just what makes his band tick…

PAUL: “Mike Park [founder of Asian Man Records] once described you guys as ‘aggressive punk with gritty vocals and driving melodies’. How would you describe the Lawrence Arms sound?

BRENDAN: “We had a shirt once that said ‘Midwestern beer belly despair rock’. I think that sums it up pretty good.”

PAUL: “How did you end up with the name Lawrence Arms?”

BRENDAN: “The Lawrence Arms is the name of a building on Lawrence Avenue that we used to live in. We really never thought of calling the band anything else.”

PAUL: “Which bands really influence your sound?”

BRENDAN: “I dunno, that’s a tough one, the bands that we all really enjoy right now don’t really sound like us at all, lots of people compare us to old Bay Area bands I guess……”

PAUL: “You’ve just made the move from Asian Man to Fat Wreck Chords. What was the thinking behind the move?”

BRENDAN: “Um……we thought ‘wow, Fat is a great label, it would be an honor to work with them’. We are still very close with Mike from Asian Man and he is behind our move. I think everyone is happy.”

PAUL: “Punk really seems to be in the mainstream at the moment, do you think that is a good or a bad thing?”

BRENDAN: “It’s really no different than it ever was. In the 70’s all the punk bands were on majors and on the front of all the papers. In the 80’s mohawks and shit were everywhere. Watch any cheezy 80’s movie, there’s always at least one big mohawked punker. The 90’s was all Offspring, Nirvana, Rancid and Green Day. I dont really see much of a difference, except for that the punk that is in the mainstream right now is remarkably unthreatening. I hardly think that New Found Glory would piss off any parents…….but who cares, the music is cool and it’s good to see bands able to support themselves. I guess I just don’t really care one way or the other, really.”

PAUL: “Have the events of September 11 influenced the Lawrence Arms style of songwriting at all?”

BRENDAN: “We have only written one song since then and it’s the last song on our new record. That was written on the 12th. Even so, I don’t think it’s any different than the rest of the record. Honestly, I don’t think the events of the 11th will have much of an effect on our songwriting.”

PAUL: “What are your plans for 2002? Any plans to visit the UK or Europe?”

BRENDAN: “Nothing is planned but we would love to come back.”

PAUL: “It’s not long until your debut on Fat Wreck is released. How would you describe the recording process, are you happy with the finished product and what would be a success for it?”

BRENDAN: “Well, its already a success in my eyes, because it’s my favorite album that i’ve ever been a part of. We went in and just did what we always do, and I think for some reason it just turned out really great. Yup….”

PAUL: “What is your new boss Fat Mike really like [be honest!] and what bands on the label would you really like to tour with?”

BRENDAN: “He’s a really nice guy on the phone. I’ve never hung out with him in person. He lives about 1500 miles from me but he’s really smart and nice and supportive. Any band on Fat would be great to tour with, but Propaghandi is my fav on the label.”

PAUL: “You’ve got a really rad song on the ‘Plea For Peace’ cd [‘Quincentuple Your Money’]. How did you end up on the CD, and why is it so important to help out a charity like the National Hopeline Network?”

BRENDAN: “Mike Park, who runs Asian Man helped put that comp together and took a song off our split with The Chinkees and put it on there. We are down to help any charities that are into doing good, and keeping kids from killing themselves is damn good.

PAUL: “What was the most memorable gig you’ve ever played and why?”

BRENDAN: “Woah…….that’s lots of shows to go through, a good one was in Switzerland where we played with a band full of transvestites and then the club made us play for two hours and by the end of the first hour everyone was gone…they hated us.”

PAUL: “Last but not least, what is the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?”

BRENDAN: “I’ve gotten lots of shitty advice, and I’ve disregarded it all. Some reviewer once told us we should quit playing music…..i guess that’s pretty good, eh?”

The new Lawrence Arms CD will be available to buy in February 2002. If you’ve not got their first two records yet, visit Asian Man Records and make a purchase. You know it makes sense…

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]