Saying you've been able to release five stand-up records on Epitaph, persevere through member losses and new courses, become a punk rock staple in a decade of resilience only off a two month touring schedule; it's gotta be none other but Pulley. California-bred brilliance, their roots in punk rock bands and names are deeper than any pit and to see all the guys with Scott back from a full career in baseball; jumping straight to play stages is nothing but short of confounding. Most notably is Matters, out as of April 6th, we can finally now see Pulley touring again. A cold-front interview after their last date on the Frostbite Tour, I got a chance to meet up with Jim and Tyler at a party after. Presumably by now we're all tanked, don't be late for interviews. Read on if you like free Canadian beer...
Angie- Stoked to be sitting here & to have finally seen you guys live. There's been lots of years for Pulley, different careers, members, choices so forth- you guys are back and all still very undamaged with your 5th release.
Jim- Yeah it's called 'Matters' and it's going to be released April 6th. Epitaph I think they're releasing it worldwide on that day. I actually saw an ad for it in a magazine while we were driving the other day so that's pretty official I guess.
What divine intervention occurred from you that got Pulley behind mic stands?
Well of course the original band formed out of Scott getting kicked out of Ten Foot Pole because he wasn't able to tour year round that's how Pulley started. It started out as a part time thing so. I think that's why the bands had so many changes member wise. You lose one guy, you get another guy, you lose another guy, you get a new guy... We've basically known each other for a really longtime, that's definitely what brought us together.
I was surprised to see on the new record didn't work with Ryan Greene but Matt Hyde, he's worked with everyone from Sum 41, No Doubt to even Slayer...
That was done purely just for a change. We actually didn't even know who he had worked with we asked Brett first but Bad Religion was recording at the same time so of course he's in the band so that was understood. I guess Matt Hyde had not recorded but mixed 1208's new record, some other guy had recorded it but Matt Hyde came down and did the mix down. During that time Brett asked if he'd be interested in working with us and so luckily for us it worked out well.
I could definitely hear a new input on this record, in the sound itself...
It's sound is really huge there's two reasons why it sounds big is for one- Matt Hyde did work on it and he has a different approach to recording and to the final mix and process than Ryan does. And of course Ryan does an excellent job but they're two different artists, they're painting two different pictures of the same thing so you're going to get a difference. And the other reason is that Scott is not playing baseball anymore and he's able to instead of put in maybe a week or a month of recording vocals on an album he had the entire writing process which was probably a year and a half to two years to work with the band. Go through all the changes that the band went through, we we're actually able to compile everything together as opposed to... I believe the last album before I got in the band, was done completely and recorded without Scott's involvement... So basically Scott was able to work the whole time when we were working as far as writing goes so with that, you can hear it in the vocals, the vocals sound huge. When he went in to record, Matt is really big on vocals and I was really just amazed because their were songs that we didn't have vocals to when we went into the studio and I think they took about 3 weeks to get the vocals done. Just everything done, harmonies you know everything and when we got in there and I heard the final mix with vocals on it, there was about five songs I hadn't heard the vocals completely on and I was like- oh my god this is amazing. You know it's nice to hear something like... I didn't have a clue, Scott didn't have a clue, I didn't have a clue nobody had had a clue what he was going to sing on those songs when we were recording them. But Matt is the kind of guy who can go 'okay I see this happening... I see that happening what do you think?' he just works really well.
So you'd say all the lyrics we're composed together collectively, no one particularly did lots of writing alone?
Mike wrote the lyrics to 'Insects Destroy'... Scott actually wrote just to go on the flipside, he wrote a couple of the songs, the main bodies of the songs because we as the band have no received our promotional copies of the album yet, I can not remember the titles of those songs. To me when we were recording it was song number one, song number two or three then the titles came up when Scott was doing the vocals for them...
Would you say this album has sped up?
On our new album it's sped up from the last album, for sure. There's more high- I don't want to say upbeat because that might be misleading but there's some high energy songs on there that are fast, well you know not super blazing speed metal fast but for punk rock it's fast and we're not slowing down basically.
Anything you think being on this record, distinguished it from the bands previous releases?
We all pretty much feel that this is the best but of course I can't really say it because it is the first album I recorded with the band but Mike and Tony and everyone else is just saying it's the best album the band has ever made, the best release. Anybody might say that for any new release they have of course nobody is going to say their new record is crap or they wished and expected more. You usually find that out when the next record comes out but it's pretty solid. It's a pretty solid album.
Are you releasing any videos with this?
We have two videos that we already did. 'Insects Destroy' and 'A Bad Reputation'
Could you ever imagine Pulley releasing a record other than on its birth-home Epitaph?
You know that's really up to other labels and I think Epitaph has been really patient with us considering we were only able to tour two months out of the year. I think the reason why is because were a really easy band, we don't ask for a lot. We don't ask for money we don't ever ask for any kind of advances, we don't ask for anything. We go and record our record, we go in and get it done and we go tour it and push it. So Epitaph doesn't really lose any money with us, you know we could be one of those bands that goes in and says 'by the way we need a ten thousand dollar advances so we can do Warped Tour... we need a tour bus' or whatever you know blah, blah, blah. It's completely legitimate reasons for wanting this stuff but we've always thought about paying the money back. Like everyone in the band is very frugal and I know personally I have no debt, well I mean I had debt and trust me I didn't like it. But everyone in the band is like that so it's like okay if we borrow money then we have to pay it back then it's going to be even longer before we see any compensation for the record sales and our record sales aren't big so it's not like we're going to get something huge.
Are you guys at all initially worked up before a release, how it will be received by fans and even so the press?
I think on this particular one because Ryan didn't work on it... But let me just sidetrack a little bit, the fact that we didn't work with Ryan was not personally against him, it was a decision with the band that we wanted the change. Doesn't mean that we don't like what he's done in the past and again I wasn't a part of those recordings with Ryan, I have never been to his studio. I have never been a part of that recording process but basically I just wanted to state that- I don't want any misconceptions about that. To get back to your question we were a little worried about what people would think, it wasn't so much worry but curiosity of what people would think when they saw Matt Hyde on there. People know who Matt Hyde is and who he's worked with and what he's done and it was a slight concern. But he took Pulley, retained the Pulley sound but put the Matt Hyde edge as opposed to the Ryan Greene edge. Both edges are great but we didn't know what to expect and now Chris Aiken, bass player for Strung Out very good friends with Tyler, they went to school together. Now Strung Out is working with Matt Hyde, they're working with him on pre-production. So the next Strung Out album, don't quote me, I am pretty sure will be produced by Matt Hyde.
New songs someone would be guaranteed to hear live off 'Matter'?
'Stomach Aches' and the first song on our new set, first song off our album 'A Bad Reputation'. We'd like to do more but we held off on doing 'Insects Destroy' which it seems that songs is everyone's favorite off the album but we played it live before in the past and it's kind of one of those long songs that if you're not familiar with it- it can kind of be a ball and chain to the set. It really slowed things down but now and once people start learning it, it's a good sing along song it's got a lot of edge to it. It's one of those weird songs sort of like if you introduce it and no one knows what it is it's a really fucking long song. But if everyone knows what it is, because hearing it they look forward to it... it's just really powerful.
Tours? Warped Tour is one of them right...?
Yeah we only got ten days I guess we need to prove ourselves now that Scott's not playing baseball anymore. That's my guess, that's my take on it you know see what these guys can do. I'm not sure what stage we're doing... We're also going to be on the Destruction Tour.
So Scott's done with baseball, can we expect to see you guys touring full-time?
We can't tour full-time, we can't tour all the time because we're old guys. I am the oldest guy and I can't afford to take that much time off of work. Everyone works their own way to pay the bills because it's though to get the ball rolling again after so many years of only going two months out of the year. So we're going to do everything that was can with this new record, with promoting it and touring it but also we have to make sure that we don't overstep and you know get thrown out of our houses or apartments. I'd love to do it year round but it's a huge commitment and you have to make sure that when you're going to go out you're going to get something in return financially. And I know it sounds horrible to say it and I'm sure there's a bunch of kids who don't like to hear that but that's just the reality of it, you gotta pay the bills, you gotta pay the bills!
When you're on the road what's amiss?
I miss home but basically on the same token if you're on tour with a bunch of good people like on this 'Frostbite Tour' it's been not an entirely different experience but it's been a different experience to where nobody was an ass, nobody was a dick, nobody was arrogant, nobody was conceited. No one was pushing it you know, doing the prima-donna thing. But it's home I basically miss...
The whole lingering issue of Ten Foot Pole, still get asked about it? Even tonight, big surprise to see Scott get on stage and perform 'Old Man' with Choke.
We don't get asked that much anymore in fact since I have been in the band I think I've been asked maybe twice about 'why don't you guys do any Ten Foot Pole songs?'. I think Ten Foot Pole... I'm not sure but I've heard I am not one hundred percent but I think Ten Foot Pole gets asked a lot why Scott left the band? And this is like ten years later. Apparently the word hasn't gotten out. It was Choke's idea and they did an amazing job...
You mean you wouldn't normally see Scott perform that track- if it wasn't Choke's idea?
Totally yeah, I don't think Scott really wants to do Ten Foot Pole songs I think he's never voiced it. I mean he's never said we should do some Ten Foot Pole in our set. We could totally pull it off, I mean Tony's their drummer and to play the songs isn't hard to do, just have to learn them then play them but it's never been... This was just more of a favor Scott was just like 'yeah sure, I'll do it' because even I was thinking about it when I saw it three nights ago why aren't we doing Ten Foot Pole songs in our set? And I know that Scott just really doesn't want to do it. And the funny thing is, we're going to be going to play a show out in Belgium; Pulley, Ten Foot Pole and Strung Out, all going to be in the same place. It's going to be a seamy side High School reunion is what it's going to be.
Even Straight Faced must come up.
Well Jim Cherry is the connection there I am Jim Cherry's replacement so well yeah of course. It was only the first tour that I heard about it cause not everybody knew about it, not everybody knew that I was the guy. But once I was up there they didn't know why Jim Cherry wasn't in the band anymore. I replaced Jim Cherry before he passed away and he'd gotten the whole Zero Down thing going and he'd wanted to have his own band, he wanted to be the guy who could call shots and so they finally had a meeting and they parted ways and he was on his own. And I think that happened maybe March I think April 2001 and then August 2001 I was asked to be in the band after Pulley finished recording the album then I took his place. So when we'd went on tour in September or October of that year with the Voo Doo Glow Skulls I got asked some questions. But you know for me it was just a matter of learning the parts and you know keeping it true to what he did. But at this point now though, I kind of wanna mix it up a little bit. As far as the Jim Cherry stuff goes people know, I don't really have to say so... when we play old material.
Do any of you have studios at home or are able to record on your own time?
We have a rehearsal studio in Chatsworth, CA and we can do it at the studio. Nowadays you can get equipment that works basically anywhere you can get high quality recordings. In fact we did a lot of demoing there, Matt Hyde even came to our studio which is basically a warehouse a kind of lock-out thing, it's basically our place we have our equipment set up there all the time. And he came in with his lap-top computer with Pro Tools built into it and basically recorded everything for the demo there. We recorded the drums in a real recording studio and then everything else actually in our studio and saved all kinds of money. I think that's why Epitaph likes us so much we think like it's our money not their money and when Matt was coming up with ideas to try and save money we were just throwing ideas at him 'hey let's just record it at our place, we don't need to go and find a place to go and record loud guitars!'. When we recorded the album we didn't have that luxury but we still saved a lot of money.
On other schedules you guys all have families some married now, children was it ever considered to not release this record?
I'm married, no children. Scott's married and he has kids, Tony's married, but no never, of course we always wanted to. There was no hesitation. I think if anyone would have had any reservations about it, it would have came-out way before. Being in a band is not a difficult thing, being in the band is not difficult. I think the most difficult thing is touring and that's just from being away. But as far as the writing process everything is close to home. Do you know what I mean where do you live, in the city, here?
Think of a place that's maybe twenty minutes away from your house, maybe a 30 minute drive. You got there everyone's there, everyone in the band is there you write songs. You've got a contract with Epitaph to record another album and your job is to come up with material for a new record. There's no strain on the home-life with that the only strain if there is any, is going on tour, hoping to you maybe make money or break even whatever and being away from your loved ones.
Favorite stages to play, set up, grace?
Well after this Canadian tour, you know I can't even remember all of that stages that we played but all I know is after this- all of the cities have really been a warm welcome to what we thought was going to be 'oh cool, finally six years later you guys are back whatever...' and it's not to say, we would totally understand. If the audience was like 'yeah cool thanks dicks, thanks for waiting so long to come back' but they were just like amazing. It's like god you know when a band takes that long to get back usually what happens when it's like three or four years later there's one original member in the band and he's just trying to keep the dream alive. It's all availability man, it's all about availability and we weren't available to do anything in Canada for a long time. The last time the band came up here I think Jim Cherry was still in the band. I have never been to Canada before obviously he was still in the band and I think Tony had just gotten in the band but I could be wrong, it gets a little fuzzy during that part of the history of the band. But as far as my favorite places to play, Brazil was insane, it was just... The people just love when people think about them we have a Rush DVD on a band? Of course you know who they are you're Canadian, it's so nice to talk to a Canadian about Rush, it's like I don't even need to... Anyways they basically felt the same way as we did when we watched their DVD they didn't know so far south there was such a following. It's a country that, it's such a massive huge place that it's a wonder that it's not I wouldn't say forgotten about but I'd say over looked. Europe, Canada, United States, Japan, Australia those are the main places, those are the major markets for everybody right. But if you go down to South America people we're rabid for American bands or Canadian bands. I think were one of the first few bands, definitely not the first I can't remember the name of the band but I remember they also toured Brazil but the trouble with Brazil is its a little unpredictable. I think financially why bigger bands don't go down there. Like that was the number one question we got asked when we went down there 'why doesn't Pennywise come down here? Why doesn't this band ever come down'... when I say Pennywise I'm actually not even sure if they went down there or not but we got a lot of 'why don't any big bands ever come down or why if they do come down they do one show?'. I don't know? I think a lot of these bands are used to making a certain guarantee and if they can't have that guarantee met, if they can't come home with money in their pocket and it's a completely legitimate reason it's a loss for them and it hurts. I'm really bad at side tracking questions but as far as favorite places to play it's easier to ask me what places I don't like to play.
What places do you not like to play? (laughs)
I hate playing to a jaded audience I think that's what it is. I can remember my favorite places but the places that I really don't like to play is those really jaded audiences that get people all the time, get bands all the time. Who just stand there with their arms folded staring at you like you're a... I don't know, really why did you pay money to come here and see us? Unless you're a big band I mean I know that's what you're going to get cause they see bands all the time. It's over saturation is what it is, you got to a place like Brazil who never get anybody from the Western Civilization at all going down there. I swear to god when we came back everyone was like 'So! What was it like down there?' like we'd went to another planet or something over there, like did you get robbed, well I mean financially. It is what it is, you go down there and you take your chances and there was some really sketchy shows we did, sketchy meaning like when you're done playing you're standing on stage with your guitar and I swear to you, a mass of people get up on stage and you're trying to turn around to face your equipment. They don't mean any harm to you... they want a piece of you. They want your hat, they want your pic they want something and it's not stealing because their thieves it's because- when am I ever going to see these guys again they want, like 'give me your recorder when we're done please, give me this piece of paper, that quarter please!' you know that's their mindset because they're starved. Then you go and play some places out in Europe that gets bands through there all the time you get this shit, just folding their arms. Of course it's not every city but there's some that are like that. Unless you're NOFX and I understand I'm a huge fan of NOFX.
What seriously notable bands you've had the chance to play with in Pulley you'll never forget?
NOFX, yeah we toured with them and No Use For Name in Europe and that was my first European tours with them. And that is still, it stays in my mind as one of the best times that I've had playing music. We had some music festivals to play I think we had four or five of them to play in different countries in Europe and it was with NOFX. I saw NOFX back in the 80's and to see them rise to what they've gotten to. I love their music I am a big fan of their music and to play with them. To be able to walk out on these giant festival stages and sit up on the side or sit right behind Eric and watch him play drums while the rest of the band goes and just go- this is fucking awesome, this is the best. I am touring with a band that I am a fan of. I am a fan of Pulley, I still am. I was a fan before I ever got into the band and to get into Pulley was a big deal for me when I get to play with them. No Use For A Name and NOFX I love both of those bands, I'm a very musical person and I think both of those bands are incredible song writers, I think both of those bands Tony Sly, Fat Mike and whoever else is involved in that writing process they're geniuses, they're really strong.
On that note would they be among the band you'd dream to play with one day?
Oh I'd love to be in Me First & The Gimme Gimmes. I sit at home and play to their records strange or not. I would just love to be in any band I am a fan of. Just to be on stage and play new songs. Songs that I really, really like in fact I've become... My new favorite band is the Mad Caddies right now and it was through the course of touring. And I hope they don't mind but you have to understand that when you're in a band, your focus is your band -- well it's a give or take thing. But usually when you're in a band you pretty much focus on what the bands writing and what the bands doing. I had heard about the Mad Caddies but I had never seen them or heard them. Now I think this is the third or forth show we've played on this tour with them. I've watched them every night, their entire set just blown away, by their performance and their musicianship. And of course if they read this they're going to think it's a total ass kiss but it is! It is, I don't kiss ass that often and I think that they do an amazing job. So as far as playing in bands go, bands I'm fans of.
10th year Frostbite Tour, what highlights have you encountered?
I would say the fact that, you know you go to a place like Whistler BC and snow is falling, you go here and snow is falling. You come from Southern California it's not a regular occurrence to see a winter situation. When I was eight years old I moved from New York and I remember when you're eight and you still have memories prior to that and every winter it would snow. And then I come here and it's like you're encapsulated. You're old enough to remember yet it's been so long when it happens... It kind of takes you back. It's like when you hear a song that you haven't heard since you were twelve years old and then you hear that song you remember everything that was going on exactly at that time in your life, when that song was happening for you. So, when I was going there and it was almost like going into a fourth-dimension almost a dream world. When we got into Whistler that was the first time it was really snowing, these huge flakes and we walked out into this little village area cause, we were going to go and find the club we were playing in because it was the day before. It was surreal.
That why they call it Frostbite I guess... Thanks for taking the time with this.
Actually just one last thing, you asked me what I missed when I'm on tour. I miss my wife! And I totally forgot to say it and I wasn't thinking about... I was thinking about well I miss not showering everyday... But yes I miss my wife, that's it.
(Now here Tyler's round, parties gotten more free beer and their tour manager insisted on this one, so throw us a damn bone, we were without a doubt in a good state by then)
Tyler- Wasted interview take one!
Wasted interview take two!
Wow man that's some damn small hands you got, yeah I put my hands to use.
So new record 'Matters' what's your take on it?
I hate it, I mean it's awesome.
So what was it like for you working with Mister Slayer Matt Hyde?
Oh yes Mister Slayer, yes he's a good man what can I say about Matt Hyde. He brought us to the next level I would say. Our old producer awesome guy however Matt Hyde is sort of the all around musician, he was like the sixth member of our band. He told us like 'hey this song is good but you can make it way better by doing such and such' and bringing us to the next level I believe. Encouraged us to make our songs better than we ever could have thought we could make them. He never necessarily ever did write stuff for us he'd just say 'this song is good you can make it better, fucking try'. And I love Pete from Irish car Bomb as a heterosexual man I love him.
So who baptized you Mister Precision II?
A man in a club thought I was Dan from 88 Fingers Louie. He was wrong!!! I am not Dan! My name is Tyler I am from California! I am not from Chicago and not only am I not Dan from 88 Fingers Louie. I am not Chris Aiken from Strung Out and no I am not Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters, jesus christ next question!
Favorite songs on 'Matters'?
None of them, I mean I like all of them a lot. First song 'A Bad Reputation' I'll say fuck, I'm sorry don't mean to curse. Wow my favorite songs? I am going to say songs one through to six are all fucking awesome and the rest I all really like too but the first six I am going to say are really my favorite, how about the album is my favorite.
You've been with Pulley since...
Since 97, I'd say if I can even do the math about seven and a half years.
I asked Jim too would you ever see Pulley anywhere but on Epitaph, not a flicker of thought to jumping major wagons in your schedules.
Man, I want to make money I am not going to lie. We don't make money at all but we have a great time out with our friends, have awesome tours all the time. Epitaph's let us do that, at least they've let us put records out and see the world. Major label would have totally dropped us by now if we would sell what we've sold so I am totally happy with our label.
Do you wanna be out there touring on the road steady now that's Scott around 12 months of the year again?
Well we sorta have been lately and I think that's another reason why our new record is so strong because we have been together for the last year and a half, no breaks. We've all written songs together and hung out together. It's only a positive thing being around each other all the time. And Scott around all the time, not only is he a good love, oh god I'll stop
Ten Foot Pole...
People always ask all the time! 'Why did Scott quit Ten Foot Pole?' cause he was in baseball. 'So why did he quit so he could play baseball?' and I always think that's funny cause they kicked him out because he was playing baseball and didn't have the fulltime to do recording and touring. The funny thing is though since they kicked him out of the band we released five records and they released three. I don't know any of the people in Ten Foot Pole, I don't talk shit but I know people always ask us about that all the time. Tonight Scott played a song with Choke off of 'Rev' and it was fucking awesome.
When you were at home and not on the road with Pulley- what did you miss most?
Honestly we're really boring on the road. We play lots of Tiger Woods golf on Play Station 2 and almost everybody is married and we don't do crazy drugs or go to strip-clubs, we just kind of do nothing, very boring but I do miss that aspect of being bored. I miss being you know complacent and hanging out with my friends. Being on the road is awesome, I love it. We break even we're happy, people tend to think 'oh well you have five records on Epitaph so you must be rich' which is like completely far from the truth.
Last one, one band you'd give that beer to play with?
Oh my god a lot of band, our band is huge fans of Classic Rock bands, that's all we listen to is like 70's rock bands. And the entire tour we've been listening to 'The Styx Greatest Hits' which is quite embarrassing, back when we were in Edmonton and I bought The Styx DVD and the guy at the store laughed at me which I thought was funny. Like when we're practicing, when we're not doing Pulley songs we're playing 'Rush' and 'Led Zepplin' shit like that 'The Who'. I don't really get star struck on a band so there's not really anyone I'd really die to be on stage with but I guess I'd love to jam with a band I grew up with, Maiden or fucking AC/DC, Def Leppard or Lynyrd Skynyrd...
I knew you'd have some interesting ones (laughs) thanks man! Get back in there and never cut your hair...