Formed six years ago, in the tough Brooklyn suburb of New York, Shutdown are firmly back on the hardcore map with a vengeance. Having matured, since forming in their mid-teens, the band who are still in their early twenties, have just released their excellent new record Few and Far Between. It’s one in the eye for the critics and doubters who casually labeled Shutdown as just another old school band. On this record, the boys go all out displaying some great songwriting ability, fierce drive and the all important ear for a tune. Frankly, my dear, it rocks. On the eve of a European trek with Agnostic Front, Ignite and others, as part of the Unity II Tour, I spoke to a couple of the lads to see what going on. Interview by Trevor Meehan from Unfit for Consumption (zine)
Would you like to introduce the band and how did Shutdown begin?
I’m Steve the guitarist, Mark sings, Dion plays bass, and Jimmy is the Irish man on drums. Jimmy and I are 23, Dion and Mark are 21. We’ve been playing for 6 years, so we were pretty young when we started. We were 15 and 17 when we started. We can’t deny that we were young. It’s not an insult, but now we’re trying to prove ourselves to be a respectable, mature band. Our original bass player went to school with us, but we knew Dion from a previous band he played in. The band was started because we wanted to play a style of hardcore that was more like the original style, faster and more energetic.
How Irish are you Jimmy‚ what’s your roots etc.,?
I am a full-blooded Irish man. My father was born in County Cavan.
Brooklyn’s got a tough reputation‚ what’s it like living there? Is it a case of the media exaggerating things? (‘cos the certainly do that over here. Where I live, Limerick, is known as Stab City even though it’s not that bad.)
Everyone in the band is from Brooklyn. Most of us even went to the same high school. It’s a big city, so there are good parts, and then there are really bad parts. The bad parts do have a lot of drug related problems. We try to stay away from all that. We’re not from the rich neighborhood, but not the ghetto either. We’re from the middle class working people part, and even though you have to always watch your back, as long as you stay away from the drug and fighting you’ll be all right. It’s not too rough. I guess it depends where you go. Some areas are worse than others. I think the media does over exaggerate a little too much. Brooklyn is not as bad as people think.
What are your releases to date?
First was the “No Way Out” demo, then the Back to Basics split 7″, then the “Decide” 7″, “Signs of Change” 7″, “Turning the Tide” EP on SFT, then our Victory Records recordings: “Against All Odds”, “Something to Prove”, and the new record “Few and Far Between”.
Speaking of the new record, congrats on a huge improvement from the debut. What changes did you bring in?
Nothing radical, but mostly a big progression. We went out and bought all new equipment, looked back at the mistakes that we made over the past 2 or 3 years, and took all the advice that we got from playing with great bands like Sick Of It All, Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front, and put it all together for the new album. We know that when we recorded the first album we were pretty young, and also very inexperienced in terms of recording a full length. Not to mention no one had any good equipment. We’re not ashamed of that album, in fact we still play a few songs from it, but it was a learning experience for us. We took everything that we could from that, and tried to improve on it.
What’s the current New York (and surround area) scene like?
There really isn’t much of a scene in Brooklyn right now, but we’re trying to get it going with our record release show in a club that recently reopened. Most of the shows usually take place in Manhattan. The only problem is that a lot of the clubs have recently closed down because of new laws, or previous problems. There are also a lot of great new bands like Inhuman, Sworn Enemy, and On the Rise.
Is the band fed on a mainly old school diet or do you feed on new school also?
Our biggest influences are Minor Threat, Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, Warzone, Bad Religion, Sick of it All, but also Earth Crisis, Madball, Obituary, and other heavier bands.
So what would be the bands current faves?
Hatebreed, NOFX, Sick Of It All, Strife, Madball, Descendents. We’re pretty diverse with our music selection.
Do you think people getting into this music for the first time should check out the back catalogue of hardcore? ie..Agnostic Front , Cro-Mags or even further back?
Absolutely. To be able to get into hardcore, you need to know about it’s past. Some of the greatest bands ever were the ones from when it all started. Not to mention, you can only really know about the current bands by their influences. We play a Warzone cover every night to get the newer kids into bands like Warzone because they were such a big influence to us, and we want them to know how important they were to the scene. “The future of hardcore” were Raybeez words when referring to Shutdown. You must have been pretty well delighted to hear that? He must have been a great influence on you? (still is no doubt!). It was an honor to hear that he referred to us as that. He was a great influence for us, as well as a great role model. He also played a big part in us getting looked at by Victory.
He looked out for us from day one. He was like a father or uncle to most of us, not to mention that Warzone was a great band as well. Warzone was a major influence for us. He went as far as to tell Victory about us, and the ironic thing is that after he passed away we played a benefit show for his family and that was were Victory first saw us and decided to sign us. He was helping us even after he was gone. Raybeez loved to have fun, and get everyone in the crowd involved in the show. That is what we are all about. He really looked out for us which just proved what a great person he was. We always looked up to him.
How did Jimmy Gestapo arrive at producing “Against All Odds”?
We knew Jimmy from shows that we played together, and from a compilation that he produced. We asked him to produce our record because we knew how much experience he had in recording. The same thing basically happened with Roger Miret producing our new album “Few and Far Between.” Roger did a great job of working with Mark on his vocals, and he gave us a lot of good advice.
Do you think Hardcore is way too serious? I know some NY bands are putting fun back in like NRSV and 2 MAN ADVANTAGE. Do we need more of these loonies to keep it fresh?
Sometimes it’s a little too serious, but for good reason. As long as everyone has fun at the shows, and no one fights then it’s all good.¬†
Have you played many shows in Europe?
We haven’t played in Europe, but the tour with Agnostic Front in November is already booked. It’s great. That’s why it’s the Unity Fest. It’s all about bringing different bands from different places, with different sounds together and having fun. We can’t wait to play with them. We are extremely excited about that tour. It’s the biggest thing we’ve ever done. We know it will have a lot of kids at every show. We can’t wait to do it.
Next time you should try play Ireland…you’d probably be surprised at the reaction.
We would love to, especially since Jimmy is 100% Irish. We’ll try to get there. Thanks for the interview. Everyone go get the new album “Few and Far Between”, thanks, take care. Email: Shutdownnyc@aol.com