ISS Is A Two Man Sleeper Cell of Hardcore Punk Built on Samples

The North Carolina band featuring members of Whatever Brains and Brain F# create songs using samples from their punk rock record collection.

by Tim Scott
24 September 2015, 5:21am

Eddie and Rich are two punks from North Carolina. Rich plays in Whatever Brains and Eddie in Brain F≠. Together they are ISS, a two-man sleeper cell of hardcore punk built on hardcore punk samples.

Their debut cassette, with tracks such as “Back Taxes and Anaphylaxis” and “Freemasons Run the Country”, takes guitar and bass and then samples the drums and rhythm tracks from punk records in their collection. Imagine if Marley Marl or Pete Rock, sampled Discharge or Blitz records rather than jazz and beats.

Read a chat we had with Eddie and Rich and listen to two tracks from the tape, "Soft Youth" and "Discharge It to the Game", below.

Noisey: The tape is kind of high-concept but still fun. Who came up with the idea of sampling punk rock records?
Eddie: It was mostly me, but if I'm being honest, it was actually Rich. I'm not sure if I've ever expressly stated this but on Whatever Brains first LP, there's a song called "Blues Lawyer" that features a loop that works as the basis. Later, I decided to use 'punk drum breaks’ as the basis of songs. It was practical because I was living at my old man's house at the time, Brain Flannel was on indefinite hiatus and had no way to record drums. Plus I've probably always been more into rap, and I think it was just an excuse for me to use a lot of the same principles beat makers have and apply it to punk music. But all those things I just said are on some boring, nerd shit, and I really want, at all costs, to keep this shit nerd free.

Rich: It’s kind of like Doctor Mix and the Remix but the opposite and maybe 30 years later.

How do you record the songs?
Eddie: I can't stress enough just how limited and specific my technical expertise is. But, it was done using as few microphones as possible. Then by hooking guitars up to samplers, and then plugging those samplers into computers (or iPhones and Android phones in a pinch). During most of the recording process, I had to keep pretty quiet. Obviously if I made too much noise in the house, my dad would have been pissed. Plus he would've started bitching at me about how I live my life. That guy will never understand me or my music.

How do you decide on the samples?
Eddie: Whatever band was dumb enough to put isolated drums in their songs.

Have your performed the songs live?
Eddie: No. I always wanted to play live at least once. It's totally doable. The problem we would have is that we’re both completely incapable of remembering how to play songs we wrote. So we have to find players that are far less shitty than us.

It’s fun trying to play pick the band sample. Without giving too much away can you name some of the bands you have sampled?
Rich: The bands samples are cool but I like the Donkey Kong samples the most

“Discharge It to the Game” is pretty obvious but what about “Soft Youth”?
Eddie: "Discharge It To The Game” drums came from a " target="_blank">Silkk the Shocker song. "Soft Youth", well let's just say that the band sampled thinks that are owed a living for no real reason and that they shouldn't have to work. It's also worth noting that I also think that I am owed a living and shouldn't have to work.

ISS tape is available now from the Loki label