Interview with Walk the Plank
- by Natan Press
Walk the Plank won our 2013 DC readers' poll, due to their ability to create a strong following in the DMV scene through an incredible DIY work ethic, and an adventurous take on the hardcore sound. They mix metal and punk in a satisfying onslaught of energy in show after show after show for two years. Hopefully this is just the beginning. In this interview, members of the band discuss what it takes to make it with a DIY mindset in the DMV.
You guys play a lot. How many shows have you played? Why do you play so many shows? Is it just for fun or is it a professional strategy? How do you manage to do it?
Alex: Yeah it’s definitely a labor of love. We’ve played around 200 shows at this point I would say. As far as it being a professional strategy? I wouldn’t say that exactly. It’s more if you want to get your name out there, you have to get on the road and play. It’s definitely difficult as we all have full time jobs. It hasn’t stopped us though. I remember one tour we did a few years ago we all had trouble getting off work, so we sucked it up and ventured to each show each night after work and drove right back to be back for work in the morning. I think the furthest we went on the trip and back was Asbury Park, NJ and came right back and then went back out the next night for another 4 hour haul. Crazy in hindsight and probably wouldn’t do a tour in that manner again, but we didn’t want to cancel the shows just because we’ll lose a little bit of sleep.
Why hardcore? Are you trying to bring something back; bring something alive in D.C. Is simply your thing? What got you to start playing. What are your goals?
Ian: I grew up listening to punk and hardcore, as well as a lot of other genres. Despite our inspiration/aspirations, our goal is to have fun and to express ourselves positively and have the opportunity to say something. Ultimately it’s to seek inner peace and to see the world.
Troy: I don't think we limit ourselves to “Hardcore”, especially since I joined the band. If you have to pigeonhole us to a genre, I suppose that is a decent one to describe the music we create. We play what we play, and try to keep progressing and writing well-crafted songs. I've been obsessed/in love with music since I was about 3 or 4 years old. My goal is to keep creating music, and having fun, with people I respect and love for as long as I'm alive.
How is the D.C hardcore scene doing in general? Is it coming back? Did it never leave?
Ian: It’s quite diverse; there are a lot of talented musicians doing a lot of unique work. It has never left D.C., It has merely evolved.
Troy: Things are what they are. Seems to be a pretty decent bunch of folks in the DC/MD/VA underground music scene these days. Whether it left/came back is pretty subjective to the individual. You can't focus on whether it was better or worse 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago. It is what it is, and we're having fun being a part of it.
It seems like there are a number of new efforts to reinvigorate the DIY scene in the DC area. Can you talk about new things ( people, venues, studios, messages boards, etc.. .) that have been helpful to you and others recently?
Alex: It seems like it always comes in cycles. There will be a ton of things going on, tons of energy and effort from people to put on shows and tons of bands playing them. After a while people get busy, venues close, bands break up, and you have to wait for the next wave of people who want to take the torch and carry it on again. It happens all the time and its not a bad thing. I think its good! It keeps new blood coming in and it keeps it fresh and creative. Right now we are lucky its thriving in the area.
Ian: It’s definitely a matter of people caring. In terms of studios, we have had the pleasure to work with several talented producers in the DMV, and I feel as though each session has allowed us to grow as musicians.
D.C. Is a notoriously difficult area to find affordable practice space in. Is this true for you; where do you practice?
Troy: We practice at our drummer’s house. I've been lucky enough to have pretty steady practice spots in various band members’ houses for years now.
Alex: Which unfortunately is not the case for everyone. We are very fortunate to have a steady practice space.
How has the internet changed your DIY experience? For instance, you release 7 inches with other bands, both on vinyl and bandcamp; is it easier or harder to sell records? There is a lot of discussion about the “changing music industry” but it is mostly focused on the labels. How is DIY changing. How is hardcore changing, if at all?
Ian: Whether records are sold online, at a record store, or at a show, I don't think that fans of music are going to base their interest on a particular medium. However, I do feel that relevance is fleeting in the digital age due to the fact that the internet is sensory overload. I don't really consider DIY to be a specific genre, or scene, it's just a matter of people caring a enough about their art to put it on display. In terms of hardcore changing, it will always carry the message it is supposed to get across.
Troy: The internet has made it easier to get your music to people all over the world. It all depends on where you're playing, but people still buy records/merch at shows and online. Things like bandcamp have made it easier to sell merch even when you're not playing shows. Both are pretty necessary. Everything is always evolving/changing. We try to embrace it all.