by Justin Tucker
The infectious ska-punk style of The Interrupters takes a straightforward, back-to-basic approach to a genre that has been stagnant for a very long time. Aiming to be nothing more than fun and pure in their music, the group succeeds, but not without forcing their audiences to dance and sing along.
Led by Aimee Allen, who wrote the theme songs to both the TV show Birds of Prey and the Ron Paul campaign, with brothers Kevin, Justin and Jesse Binova respectively on guitar, bass and drums, the group’s latest album Say It Out Loud on the seminal Hellcat Records is a collection of songs about unity, friendship and challenging authority.
I recently was able to ask Kevin Binova, who has also performed with The Transplants and Sublime with Rome, some questions about The Interrupters’ message, their latest album and who they look forward to sharing the stage with at this year’s Warped Tour.
UR Chicago: How did The Interrupters come to be?
Kevin Bivona: The twins and I used to play in a band called Telecasters. We were on tour in the fall of 2009 and ended up on some shows with Aimee, who was touring as a solo artist. We made friends and became fans of each other’s music. Less than a year later we went into the studio with Aimee to record and write on her next solo album, and before it was finished we decided to start a band!
UR: What exactly is your band trying to interrupt?
KB: We realize that we aren't reinventing the wheel by any means musically, but I'd like to think we are doing something a little different than the mainstream at this time. As far as certain issues, we are addressing and trying to deliver them in a way where we can all still dance and have fun. Basically we are interrupting the times you are standing still, with a time where you should be dancing!
UR: Where did my liberty go and how can we get it back?
KB: Haha! I am assuming this is in regards to our song, "Liberty." Your liberty hasn't gone anywhere. The lyrics to that song are a hypothetical exaggeration of people giving the government too much power over them, which, throughout history, has proven to not end well. To answer your question, you can get it back if you "Take Back the Power"!
UR: There aren't that many punk rock bands with an explicitly pro-Liberty message—one that I consider to be distinct from the usual punk rock, anti-authoritarian themes. How has the philosophy of The Interrupters been received in the overall punk rock community?
KB: To us, being pro-Liberty and anti-authoritarian are one in the same. Writing political lyrics can be a double-edged sword at times. Politics can be so divisive. There is no right and wrong in politics. Everyone is entitled to have an opinion and political preference, as everyone has a unique moral compass. I'd like to think that overall our band has been well-received. Some people have judged us solely on the base of our lyrics, and the conclusions they have drawn from them, and decided that they don't like us; that's their choice. We want people to be able to interpret our lyrics however they want, and we want our music to be for everyone. We want to unite people and not divide them. We don't currently align ourselves with any politician or political party and are always open to discussion, as we know that we don't have all the answers. For a band with lots of political rhetoric in our lyrics, we are actually very open minded about listening to everyone's side.
UR: What can fans expect from Say It Out Loud? How is this album different from previous recordings?
KB: I think this album is a bit of an evolution from the last one. We have done a lot of time together on the road since the first album and strengthened our bond as a band and as people. A lot of experiences of the past few years definitely went into the songwriting for this album. We love our first album, but we think this one is a step up!
UR: The song "Take Back the Power" from your last album was recently featured during the closing credits of Where to Invade Next. What can Michael Moore learn from the Ron Paul Revolution and vice versa?
KB: I personally think that those from opposite sides of the political spectrum have so much to learn from each other. It's impossible to learn from people who already believe the same thing as you. Some people only seek knowledge to validate what they already believe to be true, and that brings them comfort. To each their own. This interview is getting a little too serious; let's talk more about the music!
UR: How has your experience with Hellcat Records compared to your other experiences in the music business?
KB: We are so fortunate to be with Hellcat Records. We all grew up as fans of Hellcat and Epitaph. Being able to work closely with Tim Armstrong on our albums has been something we are very grateful for. He's like a brother to us, and we learn so much from him. The great thing about Hellcat versus other labels is they let us completely do what we want as a band. The songs we record, the album art, what song we want to do a video for, the touring we want to do; they really give creative control to us, which is very freeing and makes us all excited to make music!
UR: Who are you looking forward to performing with the most at this year's Warped Tour?
KB: We have already played shows with Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, and Teenage Bottlerocket, so we are looking forward to hanging with them! Another band we love to listen to in our tour van is Masked Intruder— we are definitely looking forward to seeing them live!
UR: Is there anything else you would like to add?
KB: Life is too short to get too caught up in all this political mumbo jumbo! Let's all have a good time! See you this summer!
The Interrupters’ latest album Say It Out Loud is available now. Catch them at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park for the Vans Warped Tour ‘16 on July 23rd.