“There are people who are in bands and there are people who are musicians. Musicians have to keep playing. People in bands deduct if their band is successful, because they want fame”
Surrounded by a sea of ska and crammed into a bathroom, I interviewed David McWane. His band, Big D And The Kids Table have been at the forefront of the ska-punk genre for the past fifteen years and it was great to find out that his passion for music hasn’t deteriorated. We talked about life on the road, the bands new album and the pros and cons of being DIY. He’s also the first to speak and introduces Owen Drew…
David McWane: Alright, let’s do it. Owen is our driver, tour manager slash get us out of jail bail man.
Owen Drew: Hi.
DM: He knows kung-fu, jujitsu, karate and tae kwon do.
OD: I could kill you.
DM: He can kill men. He makes love to women and kills men.
Anthony Barlow: So if I say anything untoward, I’ll be dead in a toilet. Nice. So yeah, how’s it going?
DM: How’s it going so far? Pretty good. This is our first night where we’ve switched to liquor, because we’ve been drinking so much beer. Not that that’s the most poignant point to make, but so far the clothes are smelling like vinegar and the shows have been good.
AB: Good, good. As a whole then, how’s the tour going?
DM: Well yesterday was crazy. It was very intimidating, because we were playing a big festival. What’s it called?
DM: Rebellion, yeah. I mean, jesus, The UK Subs were playing, The New York Dolls. We didn’t fucking realise we were on a really big stage and we didn’t realise that people were gonna watch us. It was cool. It was an experience that we didn’t think was gonna happen. We don’t understand either. That festival is the coolest festival I’ve seen so far. We played Holidays In The Sun. That’s what it’s called? That’s that outdoor festival, right? And we play Reading and Leeds, which is massive, but this thing just seemed to be very renegade. It reminded me a lot of Detroit, which is just very industrial. Even though it was on a beach, it was just kinda like Jersey, Detroit industrial.
AB: You played one date on this year’s Warped Tour didn’t you?
DM: Yeah, we did.
AB: Why did you not do the whole tour?
DM: Well there’s a couple of reasons. Usually Kevin Lyman, the guy who sets it up, doesn’t want to book the same band, because then it’s the same thing. You’re supposed to play every other year, unless you’re NOFX and you just go: NOFX, The Gimme Gimme’s, NOFX, The Gimmie Gimmie’s. Then you’re always on it. He would’ve probably put us on the whole thing, but when you do the whole summer on Warped Tour, you kinda don’t wanna do it the next summer. It’s so taxing. You wanna be excited to do it the following summer. It’s like a traveling circus.
AB: Am I right in saying you’re going to be on next year though?
DM: I hope so, yeah. I would say so.
AB: You’re new record will be out by then as well.
DM: Yeah. It’s called For The Dammed, The Dumb and The Delirious.
AB: What’s the origin of the title?
DM: It’s basically like, we’ve been doing records since ’96 and then we did a record, Strictly Rude, that was outside of our normal stuff and then we did Fluent In Stroll which was outside of our normal stuff and we toured with some of those songs live and really we just find that some of the older songs are much more fun to play live. So “For The Dammed” means for the ska boys. Because ska is dead, they’re dammed. “The Dumb” is the punk rockers and “The Delirious” are women.
AB: Do you think you’re going to get any backlash for that title?
DM: Because of this? I don’t even understand why. Oh, Punknews.org will probably but 12 dildos up our ass. I don’t know why we would get backlash. It’s not taking the piss. If the punk scene isn’t punk anymore, then I’ll probably get some backlash, yeah *laughs*.
AB: Sean isn’t touring with you this time around, what’s the reason behind that?
DM: Sean Rogan? He fell in love with a woman, but it’s not like a bad story with a band guy. ‘Like oh this fucking skanky whore’. He fell in love with this cute first-grade teacher and he just wants to take some time off touring. He just got married, he just bought a house. He’s gonna be on the new record and everything. Paul and Dan and Sean are all gonna be on the new record. We’re even getting our old singer to be on a couple of songs. Chris Bush too. It’s gonna be the most Big D record. It’ll have the most Big D members on it it of any of our records.
AB: How’s it been playing with Nick then?
DM: Nick’s with us now and, oddly enough, Nick gave us our first show ever in Boston. He was in a band called Big Lick.
AB: That’s a cool little nostalgia thing then.
DM: Yeah. Nick’s a big guy like Steve, so I like the fact that we have two huge motherfuckers in the band.
AB: *laughs* fair enough. It’s been said that Big D are constantly relevant. How do you feel about that?
DM: One of the reasons I like the band is because, like you just said, each year we put stuff that, at least, some people are listening to. Kevin Lyman actually said it the best. One of my ex-girlfriends asked him at Warped Tour ‘Is Big D a big band?’ and he goes: ‘I book bands all the time for the Warped Tour and they might draw 3,000 people for one summer, but then after that they don’t draw 3 people’ and then we’ll draw whatever we draw, but for 15 years. It’s like, do you want to be a flash in the pan or do you want to be something better than that? I just love it. I sincerely love being in the band. It works out for me.
AB: Is touring a lot harder now? After 15 years is it still as good as it was?
DM: I would say I enjoy it more now. I think in your 20’s you get a little skeptical. Like once you hit 25 you’re like ‘oh my god, am I supposed to do something, am I supposed to get my act together?’ and you don’t realise you already have your act together, being in a band. I would say, as I’ve gotten older I’ve enjoyed tour more, but tour will never get harder for us, because when we started going on tour cell phones, MySpace, Facebook and the internet weren’t even really around. If you wanted to call the promoter, you had to go to a payphone. If you wanted to call home, you had to go to a payphone. This is lavish living, for any band on tour. Even before the Euro. Hey, here he is. Ryan O’Connor has entered the room! Did you wanna poop? You can go ahead.
Ryan O’Connor: I just gotta pee, but I can do it later.
DM: Do you like peeing?
RO: I do. It gives me a sense of relief, a sense of comfort.
DM: What about the blood?
RO: Well y’know. I’ve gotta check that out when we get home.
DM: Right, okay.
RO: I hear England has good health care, but I’ll check it out when we get home.
RO: We’re okay, we’re okay.
DM: Sorry, what was the last one?
AB: I was asking if you thought any other bands are as continually relevant as you guys?
DM: I would say that no band compares to us with relevance, because we are so awesome. No, I’ll compare some bands to our career. Like how we do our thing. A Wilhelm Scream, have you ever heard of A Wilhelm Scream?
AB: I have. I interviewed Nuno in this very building.
DM: Yeah, A Wilhelm Scream is kinda the same as us. In terms of: they’ve been around as long, never really got over that hump of being a really big band, but still like having fun. No disrespect to A Wilhelm Scream. Anyone else? *laughs*
RO: Well there’s a few bands that we know that’re like, still doing what they do. They’re trying to grow and they’re developing together. The Unseen and The Ashers. There’s lots of bands that’re still trying to grow together. I feel like older bands or bands that have been together a while and know each other well. You can go to different types of places.
DM: It’s true. The Unseen…
AB: How do you guys maintain your fresh approach?
DM: This outlook? I say it often these days, but I just believe it’s the truth. There are people who are in bands and there are people who are musicians. Musicians have to keep playing. People in bands deduct if their band is successful, because they want fame. If it’s not working out, they bail ship and start another band to try and get bigger. If you’re a musican, you’re already content. I mean, we’re on tour. We write songs. Some people listen to them. We get to go to England. That’s payment. That is our thing. It’s a different poison.
AB: We talked about your new album coming out next year and you guys are one of the largest DIY bands out there still. What’s the process of making a record like for Big D?
DM: That’s a good question.
RO: Well once we’ve toured on the previous record for a while, we’re always thinking about what the next record will be. We just start making a plan. You’ve gotta write the record. You’ve gotta have time off the road to demo and stuff like that. Then you go in the studio and you put it all together. I think we’re almost done writing and ready to go into the studio step of the thing.
DM: It’s also important to put enough time in between. I mean, some bands like to write records that sound equally similar, but if you aren’t gonna go down that road I like to intentionally stop writing and just live your life and just take in some life experiences so that you can be re-molded and re-shaped for the new record. Meaning like, you’ve written a record, you’ve toured for the record. Don’t write, just live. Then slowly start seeing what comes from your new, kind of, shape.
AB: Has there ever been that one day when you’ve thought ‘I wish I could just hand this work off to someone else’?
DM: Every day of my life, I wish I could hand everything off *laughs*.
RO: There’s the battles with everything and…
DM: To answer your question a little bit better, if you go on a tour where everything is done for you… We’ve gone on some tours where it’s been a little nicer. Like opening up for the Dropkicks, we have a really nice room and it’s just bigger. I do find that my character, my personal character is better not on those tours if you know what I mean.
AB: It must be so satisfying to do everything yourselves though?
DM: It’s news to us. Everyone keeps going ‘you’re really DIY’. We do do it ourselves, but it’s weird to get patted on the back for it. Literally, we’re just doing the bare minimum. We’re just doing what you’re supposed to do. I think it’s more of something lost in other people than something that can be shined on us. Every person in a band should know that the work never stops. As a man, you should never say to another man ‘You got it. You gonna do it all for me’. That’s not the way to live.
AB: Finally, we’re actually collecting some serious research at Moon & Back. We’re wondering who would win if Chuck Ragan from Hot Water Music, Henry Rollins from Black Flag and a shark had a fight. Can you weigh in on this?
DM: Henry Rollins would win, right?
RO: Are they in Water?
AB: That’s the thing. There’s no real stipulations.
RO: I’ll say Henry Rollins would win, because Henry Rollins has the best chance of finding me.
DM: So Ryan says Henry Rollins…
OD: I’m going with Chuck Ragan here. Chuck Ragan’s huge across the shoulders and would batter Henry Rollins senseless and Chuck fronted Hot Water Music. Sharks clearly don’t like hot water, so they’d be screwed.
DM: He said scientific, so…
DM: I’m gonna go with the shark, only because after I saw that footage of Danzig being leveled by one punch from that one guy the singers don’t have it for me. I’m going for the brute animal.
RO: One of each.
DM: One of each, let’s see what happens. Bring it!
AB: So thanks a lot guys, that’s everything.
DM: Oh no, it wasn’t recording! *laughs*
AB: You scared me then.