This interview is from Profane Existence #31 Summer issue 1997 part one
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Detestation are a relatively new anarcho-punk band from Portland Oregon. Already they have numerous releases available and just made a brief tour out to Minneapolis. We interviewed them before being blown away by their incredible live performance. Detestation are: Brian-guitar, Kelly-bass, Andy-drums, Saira-vocals
PE: It seems to me that Detestation formed right after Resist broke up. Is that what started Detestation or was it something else?
Saira: It was a little while afterwards.
Kelly: We formed a little while after.
Saira: About a year or two.
Kelly: Yeah, actually, Detestation was a name I was sort of tossing around for a variety of projects right after Resist broke up. I think I suggested that Masskontroll be called Detestation before we decided on Masskontroll. But this incarnation of Detestation didn't really form until the summer of '95.
Brian: It sorta started out as a side project.
Kelly: Yeah, everybody in the band besides Saira was already in another band and so we weren't really serious about it. So, one by one our bands kinda broke up or we quit and started taking it seriously after about six months or so. We've been going pretty strong ever since...with minor line-up changes. Our old drummer Ty and our old guitar player Adam quit and that kinda put us out of commision for awhile, but then we got Andy and we've been going strong ever since.
PE: Is that why you had to cancel the tour last year?
PE: Considering how popular the previous bands you've been in have been, would you consider signing to, not a major label, but a bigger label if you were approached by them?
Kelly: No, I think we're pretty much all in agreement that we're happy at the level we're at. We can put out records, we can tour, and do all these things... there'd be no reason. I don't think any of us would be comfortable supporting something like that.
Saira: No, there's no need for it really.
PE: I know you have all kinds of plans for records, are you going to do the same thing like you did before?...like, Masskontroll has had records out on every label.
Saira: Pretty much, so far...
PE: So what do you have coming out and on what labels?
Saira: The split, with Abuso Sonoro on Six Weeks and we have...
PE: Is that going to be a limited thing?
Kelly: To as many as he puts out.
PE:It seems to be always "hard to find" stuff.
Brian: The Bacteria Sour single, whenever that comes out.
PE: Is that going to be one of those fan club things?
Kelly: I don't know.
Saira: Yeah, it's a fan club thing.
Kelly: Yeah, and we've got plans for a split 10" on Wicked Witch Records with Beyond Description from Japan.
Saira: Possibly a split with Positive Negative from Canada.
Kelly: Yeah, we've got a lot of shit in the works. It's not really intentional, it's just that we've got a lot of friends in places that want to put stuff out for us. And I'm a sucker, when people ask.
PE: Do you have any problems writing the songs for all that stuff?
Saira: Well, sometimes...
Kelly: No, not really. Brian and I write music and we both go through our periods where we can come up with a lot of stuff, but sometimes we get kind of stagnant.
Brian: Yeah, that's usually 'cause we have so many shows at certain times.
PE: The 7" is coming out on, I think, three different labels...why did you choose to do that... you know, having the same record come out in different countries?
Kelly: Just 'cause, considering the amount of people there are in the world, and the extent of the punk scene, you know... a thousand or two records just doesn't cut it really and we'd like to make ourselves available to everybody in as many places as possible. So, it's going to be released in Poland and Czech, well... all of Europe I guess by Malerie Records and then we're kinda talking with somebody in Brazil right now about a Brazilian pressing and it'll be on CD in Japan. That's our first ep (Inhuman Condition ep).
PE: The japanese CD, is that just going to have the first 7" on it?
Kelly: No, it's going to have a whole bunch of tracks on it.
Saira: It's going to have our first session.
Kelly: Yeah, it's going to have the Bacteria Sour stuff and a bunch of different things. And that's going to be on HG Fact. Yeah, we just basically want to try and get the stuff out to as many people as possible. There's also probably going to be a 10" coming out on a Polish label that's going to have the splits and stuff on it.
PE: It's going to be quite the collection!
PE: I thought that song "Back from the Dead" was pretty funny. Was there a particular band in mind?
Kelly: I don't know... I wrote that little rant. It's just kind of the way I feel about a lot of the bands that are coming back. Yeah, everybody's coming back, everything's being re-released, punk's just exploding in popularity and a lot of people are cashing in on that. A lot of bands that broke up...
PE: ...and should have stayed broken up...
Saira: Yeah, they weren't visible for the last, like ten years, but when it became profitable again they were back.
Kelly: Yeah, and it's insulting for the people who never really... you know, punk was dead to those people but for thousands and thousands of people all over the world it never went anywhere, it never died. It's always been a thriving culture and for those people to come back and try and cash in, it pretty much takes a lot out of the movement and the culture. I think it's kind of sad that a lot of people are supporting those bands, you know, they go to those shows, they book them on tours, there doing all this shit, and most of those bands are nowhere near sincere. They're just totally transparent, moneymaking machines.
PE: It seems to me that there's a lot of political bands especially.
Kelly: ... and it's not even the fact that they're making money because they're probably not making too much money. It's just that, this isn't fuckin' rock n' roll ya know. Sure, it's cool to tour and put out records and stuff but that's really kind of ... for these bands to say ..."wow, ya know, hey, I'm a middle age suburban white trash guy and I could be famous again"... it's kind of ridiculous.
PE: With the explosion of punks nowadays, do you think that the message that you guys put out through your records and your shows, do you think that will reach a new generation of people or do you think these new generation punks are even really interested?
Brian: I think so... I think a certain amount are. There's always going to be people interested in what we're doing.
Saira: I think there's a lot of people that are fed up with the Oi explosion or whatever. I think a lot of the people are interested in something else.
Kelly: Yeah, most of the people that we've been playing to on this short tour have been really really young and really excited about stuff and are just kinda getting into the punk scene. They're really young people that are really into things and that's really heartening, because, I guess with all the flocks of shallow mall punks there's also a lot of really cool people.
PE: Is it cool to play to a crowd who's probably never had a live band play in their town before?
Saira: Yeah, it's nice to play a show where people are excited to see it.
Kelly: It's awesome. It gives me a lot of hope, because for so long it was just the same people and the punks were just getting older and older.
PE: Do you think that that's maybe one small positive result of this whole MTV 'punk'/Green Day punk explosion thing or whatever?
Kelly: Yeah, that could be a positive aspect of it, I don't know if it's worth the trade-off because it might just be that it could cause a lot of people to become involved with things but on the other hand it could destroy the culture.
Saira: It waters it down.
Kelly: Yeah, it totally dilutes the anger and the emotions and stuff and just makes it another commodity and makes it another spectacle.
PE: What would be the most important single message you would want to convey, if there was one single message that you could convey to a next generation of punks?
Kelly: That's hard, because there's so many different messages that punk bands project an a lot of them are really important things for people to keep in mind. I wouldn't say we're really stating anything new. We're not smashingly original... nobody is these days. We're just trying to express ourselves.
PE: I know you guys have a lot of stuff with you that your selling, do you feel that's an imortant part of the whole, doing shows and playing out. Do you feel that's just as important as the music?
Kelly: I think it is because my main objective in running my label and my mailorder along with Saira, (Consensus Reality) is to make records available that wouldn't ordinarily be available. I try and get the most obscure stuff that I can. Really small unknown labels and stuff, mostly foreign because so many people in America don't seem to realize that there's a giant scene that extends beyond the borders of North America.
PE: That's one thing you really get a feeling for is how huge and entire the punk scene is all over the world when your doing something like Profane or what your doing, whereas a lot of people who don't deal with it day to day might not be able to even conceive of just how huge it actually is... Are you able to sell a lot of records?
Kelly: Yeah, and a lot of times people will say, 'well, what do you recommend, I've never heard any of these bands'
Brian: That's the other thing, you get to interact with people a lot more when your selling things instead of just being up there on stage. You get to meet a lot more people.
PE: Instead of just disappearing after the show.
Kelly: I think that interaction with people is really an important part of being in a band. There's nothing I hate more that going to see a band that I'm interested in and having them come off like total rockstar assholes.
Brian: They're nowhere to be seen before they play and then disappear immediately after they play.
PE: So, I don't really hear much about Portland anymore, I here of a lot of bands coming from there, but what's the scene like?
Saira: It's pretty big.
Brian: There's a lot of good bands popping up
Saira: There's a lot of bands popping up with no ex members of Resist, Deprived, and Defiance...
Kelly: Yeah, in the last year it's really picked up. We've gotten three really good, consistent all ages clubs.
Saira: There's a bunch of places to play and there's a lot of new bands.
Kelly: There's also a lot of bad, damaging elements in the punk scene. There's this whole drunken, stupid, let's pretend I'm English thing has really hit Portland and that's kinda the stupid side of things, but ya know...
Saira: They stay away though, those people stay in their houses, they don't come to shows or anything.
Kelly: Yeah... but besides that, there's some really good bands and some really cool people. Like the Obliterated.
Brian: Yankee Wuss.
PE: What are the show spaces that are opening up. Are they bars or what?
Saira: No, three of them are all ages.
Kelly: Suburbia is cool. It's like this big wharehouse - like space that this women runs. She has practice spaces upstairs that she rents out. It's a really big space with a bar in it. It's pretty cool for bigger shows. Then there's another place called Stage Four which is like a playhouse (theatre). The guy does theater stuff and he lets punk bands play there. He's been really cool about it. Then there is the eternal O' Hell which is the old X-ray.
PE: What happened to that, didn't it get shut down?
Saira: They went bankrupt so they just quit and they got bought by somebody else and now it's a punk club again.
Kelly: There's like a record store in there.
Saira: It's really cool.
Kelly: Yeah, so I think it's really healthy that there's these clubs and there's finally places, good consistent places to play.
PE: Is that Anarchis place still open?
Saira: 223?... yeah, it's still open.
Kelly: They had a real problem. Somebody ripped them off really bad.
Saira: They just got ripped off again.
PE: Like, money stolen?
Saira: Yeah, money and merchandise. There's the Liberation Collective right now too and they distribute a lot of Animal Rights Literature and they do a lot of demos and stuff like that.
PE: Is that like a space you can go to?
Kelly: No, it's just a collective group of people. They don't really have a space but they're really active.
PE: You have a lot of songs, not necessarily against, but about drinking and how it sort of destroys what's going on.
Kelly: Yeah, I think a lot of people thought we were straight edge because of our lyrics. Andy is straight edge, Saira doesn't drink or smoke, none of us smoke, none of us really do any drugs and Brian and I drink. We've all had our incidents with substances of one form or another. People say, there's all these bands in Portland that I've been in but all those bands have broken up because of drinking or drugs. I think it's the most destructive force within the punk scene, just about.
Saira: It's just with drinking and with drugs, it's such an easily overlooked thing and it causes so much problems. Like almost every problem I've encountered in the scene has been due to drinking or drug use. I'm not saying people shouldn't do it, but they should just be more aware of how they are when they do it.
Brian: Yeah, if your going to drink, be responsible.
PE: Yeah, I'm totally down with drinking but I still look at some people I know and think that they just shouldn't drink...
Saira: Yeah, if it interferes with your life and it causes problems, then you shouldn't be doing it. But if your doing it as a recreational thing, then there's really no problem with that.
Kelly: I've had a lot of friends that have spent long periods of time where they didn't drink and then once they did, it just turned them into real total assholes. Yeah, fuck, I love to drink, I drink all the time and I make my own beer and cider and it's great, but also, I learned a long time ago that I get a lot more done and I'm a nicer person to be around when I'm not fucked up all the time. I spent a lot of time being really super drunk and it affected my relationships with people and probably was a contributing factor to some of the bands I was in, breaking up.
PE: Do you think a lot of people see drinking as a form of rebellion?
Kelly: Yeah, which is the most ridiculous attitude.
Brian: They're really just buying into it all.
Kelly: That's the most ridiculous idea, there's nothing rebellious about getting drunk. Being drunk is fun as a good form of entertainment if that's what your into but it's quite the opposite to rebellious, because it leads to some of the most complacent and controlled minds. To somehow tie in being drunk to being a revolutionary is absurd.
PE: Compared to some of the older bands that you were in, a lot of the new songs seem to be more commentaries on day to day life rather thatn outright political statements.
Brian: I think that's intentional. Me personally, I'd never do the same old lyrics that everybody recycles. Old lyrics of other shit.
PE: Do you think that's something that comes about after being in a punk scene a long time?
Kelly: I think it's something that comes about just from growing and experiencing and, you know... your views change about things. I think that punk bands have pretty much covered all of the bases as far as writing 'smash the state' lyrics, but... you can only write som many songs about burning cop cars.
Saira: We just try to write songs that apply to our everyday life that we can actually live up to. 'Cause I don't personally go out and burn cop cars and government offices every day, so I'm not going to write anything about it.
Kelly: Some of those old songs are good, inspiring expressions of anger but, you know, sometimes it's kinda silly... I'll read back some lyrics from old bands I was in and it's like... no one in Resist ever participated in a revolution. No one from Deprived lit a cop car on fire. I want to be able to stand behind everything I say. That to me is important, when people stand behind their shit.
PE: I think also, a lot of the time, when you sing about those kinds of things, people who are involved in the scene get burned out on even hearing it. And when it does happen, there ends up being so much shit. It reciprocates and ends up costing so much money and you could go to jail... it has serious consequences. People get theier hopes up ... then reality sets in.
Kelly: I think that kind of stuff definately has it's place and it's very inspiring but there's also a lot of room for other things to sing about. I mean, we don't sing about women and beer, sex, and stupid shit like that...
PE: That stuffs not stupid... just singing about it is.
Kelly: Yeah, as song topics. But, I think we'e all pretty cynical... and there's a little bit of misanthropy that's kinda coming out in our lyrics...