Coke Bust is a straight edge band with an un-straight edge name. Over the last 7 years, the DC-based four-piece has become a favorite in the DIY hardcore scene. Their last album, 2009’s Lines in the Sand, packed in a whopping 33 songs (on the CD version anyway). But for their new album, Confined, the band picked their punches a bit more carefully. The 9-song LP clocks in at just under 10 minutes. 10 minutes of relentless, thrashy hardcore.
We talked to Coke Bust singer Nick Tape recently about Confined, the Redskins, and touring to the uncharted territories of the hardcore scene.
I love following you on Instagram.
I think it’s because there were a lot of hardcore bands like Coke Bust in the pre-internet era that terrified me. All of the songs were really aggressive and the album art was really sinister and the song titles were incredibly serious. You really knew nothing about the band. But now I can follow you guys and see that you actually have a really good sense of humor.
[laughs] Well, it takes away all the mystery.
Yeah, it kind of unveils the curtain on the whole thing.
Well that’s cool too. We definitely don’t try to be one of these mysterious hardcore bands. Everybody who runs into us sees that we’re just a bunch of goofy dorks in the end. Why try to hide it?
But under the good humor, there seems to be a real dark hatred under there.
That’s true. We keep it serious on the records but we, as people, are definitely goofballs. The records and the music are how we let out our serious aggression, I guess.
So do you think punk and hardcore bands are better off having no social media presence?
No, actually. I would argue against that. I think that social media can be used to hardcore’s advantage but that social media can also be a disadvantage to hardcore. But that’s why it’s important to try to go beyond the strict boundaries of social media. Like for example, we have a website where we have a lot more information on the band and if people want to say like, “Oh, I wonder what the backstory is behind this one specific record,” they can read a paragraph about it because I think that stuff is cool. When I was getting into hardcore in the early 2000s, there wasn’t Mypace, there wasn’t Facebook, there wasn’t Twitter or blogs or anything like that. Bands had Angelfire or Geocities websites where every band every band had an area where they could express themselves and provide more information. And of course, some didn’t have websites. But sometime around like 2005, 2006 when Myspace became popular, a lot of bands stopped making websites and they just had Myspace pages and that was it. Then after Myspace, it was Facebook and Bandcamp. Everything just seems so homogenized and sterilized and when I think when bands go outside of that and have newsletters or fans make zines or bands make their own websites, I think it’s cool when bands have somewhat of an identity in 2013 when it’s so easy to start a band. It’s so easy to create a little Facebook profile and put your songs on Bandcamp. Anyone can do that. It almost seems too easy and too accessible. I think it’s good when bands go outside the traditional boundaries.
I like how your website feels like it’s straight out of 2000 Geocities.
Dude, that’s what everybody says! People always give me shit about it. People straight up rag on it but you know what, man? That’s the way I learned HTML and that’s when I stopped learning HTML.
We talked about you having a more sinister persona on the record than in person. What are some things that are currently irking you?
Things that piss me off…I guess a lot of societal everyday norms. Feeling like you have to dress a certain way, you have to speak a certain way, you have to follow a certain career path. That stuff will drive anybody crazy. Feeling like you have to cut your hair a certain way, make sure it’s not all frizzy and poofy. That shit pisses me off. It doesn’t really piss most people off because most people just go along with a lot of the things they’re supposed to do. But when you take a step back and you look at a lot of the societal norms that we have, you realize how crazy all that is. When you go to different countries with different cultures that don’t have the same norms per se, then you realize, man, we don’t even think about things we do, we just accept them as the only way. That’s one thing that’s always pissed me off ever since I was a teenager. Now that I’m a young adult, transitioning into a not young adult, it’s really given me a lot of friction, especially the career stuff.
What do you guys do outside of the band?
Well, I just quit my job so I’ll let you know. [laughs] I’ve been doing a lot of freelance work. Freelance writing, freelance editing, stuff like that. I have a background in economics so I can always fall back on that. Chris, our drummer is dog walker. He’s actually working on starting his own dog walking business which will be cool. Jubert, our bass player, is a student. James, our guitar player, is a pedicab driver. So that’s what we all do.
Being from DC, you guys are Redskins fans, yeah?
Yes! I’d say we’re all Redskins fans. James doesn’t really care about football. He’ll just be happy if we win.
So I have to ask where you stand on the controversy behind the name and the logo.
You know, I know better than to comment on that sort of thing in an interview. [laughs] I will say this. I have been a Redskins fan for a lot longer than I even knew what the name meant. So I’ll just leave it at that.
I think that’s people’s problem. The racism almost becomes second nature to people.
Oh yeah, totally. Is the name wrong? Yes, definitely it’s fucking wrong. It’s tough for me to be like, yeah, we definitely need to change it. Because man, I’d just be a hypocrite because I’ve been a Redskins fan since I was 3 years old.
If they changed their name, could you get behind whatever new team name they call them?
I think it depends on what they changed it to. For example, the Bullets had to change their name to the Wizards. If they they try to name the Redskins the fucking Wizards, I’m gonna be pissed regardless.
If you had to rename the Redskins, what would you name them?
I would just call them the Skins.
Tell me about Confined. It’s really short for an LP.
It is. Confined is our second LP we’ve put out. Or 12-inch, rather. If people don’t wanna call it an LP, they can call it a 12-inch, that’s fine. We basically started writing it as soon as we got home from our really big European tour back in 2012. We wanted it to have a high replay value. Something you wanted to listen to over and over again. I think that’s how our 7-inches have always been. That’s the kind of hardcore that I love. However, I think if you listen to our first LP, you’re like, oh man, that’s exhausting.
So leave ‘em wanting more then?
Definitely. Less is more always. Our stance on this record was like, let’s write a lot of material and then take the stuff that isn’t totally on top of our game and cut it out. So that’s what we did. We wrote a shitload of songs and we actually had one more song that was gonna go on the LP. It was a long, slower burner track. The rest of the band was into it but I was like, “Guys, I’m not totally sure about this one track.” And because one of us wasn’t sure about it, there was no question. We nixed it. It ended up being 9 songs, about 10 minutes in length. I have absolutely no qualms with that whatsoever.
All killer, no filler.
Yeah totally. I wouldn’t wanna put out a 9-song 7-inch. That’s too much for us.
Chris Moore recently left Magrudergrind. Was that to play in Coke Bust full time?
He did just quit Magrudergrind. He didn’t quit to play Coke Bust. That was a bit of a sticky situation. I’d rather not get into it because it’s not really my place. Those are other issues within and limited to Magrudergrind.
You and Chris organized Damaged City Fest together?
Yeah, that’s me and Chris. If you can’t tell already, we operate as a unit. We’ve known each other for a super long time, since we were 14 or 15. Chris and I are both strategists. We’re always thinking about cool stuff we can do with the band. Damaged City was an idea while we were both on tour in Europe. We were playing the European festival circuit and for the most part, it was a total blast. But there were a few things out there that we were like, “Man, this could be so great but there are a few things we’d like to change about them” or “It would be better if this fest had X, Y, and Z.” That just turned into an idea we had in an overnight drive in the van. We were like, “Hey, would have a 2-day fest in DC. We could try to get this band, this band, and this band. We could try to keep the price down as much as possible. Totally on a DIY level. Let’s just see where this takes us.” So we started throwing feelers around to some of the bands we wanted to get and they were all for it. And we tried to pick a good time of year that just made sense for everybody, when college kids may have spring break. Something not in the summertime when you have to compete with so many other things going on but when the weather is warm. I think we picked a good time of year.
Yeah the second weekend in April. Last year went really well. It was abnormal how smooth everything went. So it only made sense to do it a second year. This year, we ended up getting Infest who we tried to get last year but it didn’t pan out. Super excited on it.
And you’re playing the Six Weeks anniversary shows this weekend.
Yeah, in Oakland on Friday.
Then what’s after that?
We are going to take—I don’t wanna say a break—but for us, going a month and a half without doing shows or anything, that’s kind of a break. But we’re going to start writing some new songs. We’re going to record one song for a comp LP coming out. And then at the break of the new year, we’re going to fly down to Brazil for a Brazilian tour. It was originally supposed to be a South American tour but the fact that we needed Visas for a lot of the other places, it would’ve been kind of expensive.
You guys are a band that likes to play weird, uncharted territory.
Why is that?
I think it’s cool. I like when bands have an attitude where they wanna go out and explore new territory and conquer places and go to the people instead of having the people go to them. I think a lot of bands now limit themselves to playing the safer spots. You know, Chicago, New York, Toronto, Boston, LA, San Francisco. That’s easy. That’s boring. That’s predictable. Anybody can fly out to play a fest that they know X number of people will be at and they’re gonna get paid X amount of money and it’s just scripted. I like going to new places that most bands don’t go to. Even within the US. That’s why I like playing in Lincoln, Nebraska or Salt Lake City or El Paso or even Boise, Idaho. We’ve been there twice now. It’s fun because the people who go to those shows are totally appreciative and they kind of lose their shit when the bands come to them.
On the flipside, it’s sort of a risky endeavor to go to non-safe cities. What’s been the biggest bomb or letdown of a show?
Man, there’s a lot. There are bombs and letdowns of shows that happen everywhere, not just in those places. And sometimes it just kind of happens. This is DIY punk and absolutely anything goes. We’ve played some pretty bad shows. One really bad show that comes to mind is the Cleveland show on our first tour ever in 2007 before we really had any contacts. We hadn’t networked too much. We played this abandoned warehouse and there were all these racist nu-metal bands playing. And we had nowhere to stay so we had to drive overnight to Michigan through this crazy snowstorm. It was pretty rough.
Dan Ozzi is not going to Boise, Idaho on a dare but wishes Coke Bust godspeed. Follow him on Twitter - @danozzi