Interview :: Andrew Jackson Jihad

© IJW Photo

“So what’s up with folk punk?”

Last month (yeah, sorry for the delay) Andrew Jackson Jihad embarked across the UK to spread their own brand of, the mystery that is, folk punk. During their stop in Manchester we had a bit of a chat to Sean and Ben about dumb Arizona laws, drinking and being on tour with Kepi Ghoulie. They’re really nice guys and great to chat to, but whatever you do, don’t mention Against Me!

Sean Bonnette: Every interview I’ve done, or nearly every interview me and Ben have done, we’ve had to talk about Against Me! for some reason

Ian Critchley: Really?

Sean: Yeah, and folk-punk, what we think about the genre of folk-punk

Ben Gallaty: Next time we’re just gonna play ignorant, and be like, what’s folk-punk?

IC: Yeah

Ben: Never  heard of it before

IC:  Yeah, we’re a hip-hop group

Ben: I listen to ABBA

Anthony Barlow: Yeah, we’re actually a Miles Davis tribute act

IC: That’d be well good

Ben: [To Sean]Wait, did you tell him that?

Sean: Nope

Ben: We had a jokeOne time, we were at Eatsa Pizza (?), and we were talking to somebody and we were talking about music, and we told them that we were going to see a show that night. We told them we were going to see a Miles Davis tribute act

IC: Haha no way, good coincidence

Ben: I didn’t know it was a thing people said

AB: It’s not haha. I was just listening to Miles and John Coltrane on the bus

IC: We’ve coined a new phrase

AB: Yeah, so, how’s it going guys?

Sean: It’s going good

AB: This is the official start of the interview I guess. How’s the tour going? You’ve been on the road, how many days now?

Sean: Errrmmm, 4? 5? 6?

Ben: We left the 29th, so we got 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, is it the 6th today?

AB: It’s the 6th today

Ben: So, err, 7 days

Sean: 7 days, cool

Ben: Since we left our houses in Phoenix, Arizona.

IC: How’re you enjoying Manchester? Have you had chance to look around?

Sean: We haven’t. [To Ben] Well, he has

Ben: I drank a beer. I drank one beer and i’m kinda feeling it so

AB: Which bar did you go to?

Ben: Odder?

AB: Odder Bar!

IC: Yeah, it’s a nice place to do like a beer and a pizza for a fiver

Ben: Yeah, i noticed that, they have a really good deal

IC: Nice pizza as well. Do you, well it’s easy to but, do you ever get, like, overwhelmed on a big foreign tour like this?

Sean: We’ve never been on a big foreign tour like this

IC: Well, is it overwhelming?

Ben: We’re not overwhelmed quite yet, we’ll see what happens when we get to Europe though. It seems like things could very easily become overwhelming once we get there

AB: You’ve had trouble securing an upright bass haven’t you?

Ben: No, actually, for the UK, it’s surprisingly easy. A really great guy that we met in Bristol, named Will Oxtoby (?), supplied me with an upright bass for the entire UK tour. He lives in London

Sean: He’s gonna come to the Brighton show too

Ben: Really great guy. He contacted us about 3 weeks ago and said “I have an upright bass, you’re welcome to use it for the whole of the UK tour”. He showed up to Bristol and had it ready. He sold merch for us because we were busy, like, playing our set, packing up and people were at the merch table. Nicest guy in the world. I don’t have anything lined up for the European dates but I’ll probably end up playing with an electric bass

Sean: Kepi has got a little pink electric bass?

Ben: It’s not pink

Sean: Aww, it should be.

Ben: I like the way the pink ones sound a lot better

IC: How’s it been touring with Kepi Ghoulie?

Sean: Ah, it’s the best. He’s the most pleasant person to tour with ever. Of all time.

Ben: This our 4th with Kepi.

Sean: There was The Queers tour, then there was West Coast, and then another West Coast. Yeah this is our fourth tour with Kepi.

Ben: He’s a really great friend, an amazing musician

Sean: brilliant songwriter.

Ben: Yeah, and as far as having, dunno, if you guys have ever toured or anything

IC: Yeah, I have

Ben: It was like a road trip, y’know like, he is our rock. He’s such a solid, like, mentally, physically, just in every way he’s a really solid individual. So, it’s nice to have him and we’re honored that he’s become a good friend of ours

Sean: Let me just say something about kepi really quick Take a look at this, check this shit out.

IC: Is this the t-shirts?

Sean: This is Kepi’s brain at work. This is Kepi’s work

IC: The Roll technique is the best. It’s all about rolling your t-shirts up

Sean: We always roll but we never roll as deep or as hard as kepi

IC: You’re, playing with some up and coming UK acts tonight, like Apologies, I Have None. Have you had a chance to hear them prior to tonight?

Sean: No

AB: They’re a really good band

Sean: Aren’t we playing with Crywank tonight? That’s honestly one of the best names I’ve heard. One of our UK merch buddies, or merch puppies as I call them, is like Simon Gabriel’s friends with Crywank

IC: Does he have t-shirts? Because so how many people are you gonna offend walking around with that?

Sean: I’m gonna buy a t-shirt tonight

Ben: Or how many people are you gonna impress?

Sean: I’m pretty sure i’ve heard Apologies I Have None though. From what I’ve heard on the internet they’re really good

IC: They’re a good band, yeah

Sean: I think I was checking out their MySpace or something

AB: Speaking of Apologies I Have None and that, what do you know of the UK punk scene?

Ben: Current punk scene? Well, our driver, Nick, has turned us on to some of the UK bands. It’s weird like, all the bands that I was really excited about, I like this band Glasvegas, and it turns out nobody in the UK likes Glasvegas that i’ve asked about. I’m a huge fan of Toy Dolls which is like an old band. I love a lot of music which has come out here in the past. Our driver Nick played us, what is it, something ghosts? It’s like a new band, they’re getting pretty big, I think one of the members is in… I can’t remember.

IC: Yeah, i’m not sure

Ben: He played us the Arteries

IC: Oh the Arteries? Yeah yeah, they played here on Saturday.

Ben: Yeah, who else? He, like, showed us a few other things. Oh, we (something), have you guys heard Caves?

AB: I’ve heard of Caves

Sean: Caves are sick

Ben: We played with Lou who is the lead singer and she did a really good set. I guess she was playing Caves songs but just with an acoustic guitar, so that was really great. So we’ve been learning a lot We’ve met Frank [Turner], of course, he’s from here. We finally heard Million Dead which is his old band and I’d heard of them, so that was cool. We’re definitely being schooled.

Sean: Bring Me The Horizon


Ben: We’re getting schooled quite a bit now that we’re here

IC: Good stuff. Is there any local Phoenix bands you’d like to promote or mention?

AB: To give us the other side of it

Sean: Right now, we think about like bands that I’ve,that  I’ve actually been enjoying that are currently operating in Phoenix. I’m kind of a fucking old man

Ben: Roar

Sean: Oh yeah, Roar. Oh God Roar’s so good. There’s The Roar, Sweet Bleeders, Color Store, Treasure Mammal. I’d say Treasure Mammal is probably the best one doing it right now, in Phoenix.

Ben: Porches is a lot of fun, I’m a little bit biased, I played drums in that band right before I left so I dunno if that counts

Sean: It counts. Porches is awesome

Ben: I don’t know if I can say that

Sean: I have no affiliation with that band

Ben: I’m trying to think of some others. There are a lot of good Phoenix bands. We’re going on tour with a band called Royal Monsters in December and I’m really excited about that *laughs* Who else? There are a lot of really great bands in Phoenix, and and also bands that have been broken up. Footox. We do some covers of Footox songs. French Quarter is a band that Steven Seinberg is the lead song writer of, and he’s not performing music right now but that was a really good band. There’s a lot.

Businessman’s Lunch. They’re not really playing but they think they’re still semi-active. They did an amazing album. Sleep In The Sea, rest in peace. Tiger Team, rest in peace

IC: We have got a kind of cliché question but…

Ben: Sure

AB: It’s a name question

Ben: I’m sure we have a cliché answer

IC: Having  Jihad in your name, have you encountered any problems coming over?

Sean: We have a great story

AB: Do tell

Sean: No one has ever given a shit about (something something something) at the airports. I mean we do our best to like

IC: Play it down?

Sean: Play it down, yeah. Never conceal it, but y’know, they’ve opened up my suitcase and seen like a stack of Andrew Jackson Jihad twelve inches, and they’ve been like, “oh, can you move some of these records in to here, we need to make this 50lbs”. But this time we brought over these three big boxes of merch, and we got through customs no problem. Have you guys ever like, travelled outside?

AB & IC: Yeah, yeah, yeah

Sean: We just had a cart with these three giant boxes on it with ‘Fruit Of The Loom’ written on it. Basically just screaming merch, but we walked through the ‘nothing to declare line’ and there was like four security guards. We just kinda smiled at them and walked through

AB: I can imagine that. It’s kinda daunting in a way, coming through the airport and you go through the nothing to declare line. I go through with nothing, and I’m still nervous *laughs*

Ben: Well, yeah, it was crazy because we’d heard from some people that like you’re not gonna be able to get that much stuff over and then I went on to, and i’m like, we get two free 50lb packages and then it was like $55 for the next one, like i’m gonna fucking pack them all. We got to the airport, we checked it all in, we showed up in Philadelphia and we met up with Kepi and he’s like “Oh shit, you guys brought all that – that was all merch? That’s not a good idea. They’re not gonna let you through with that” and i’m like “really, they’re not going to?” and he’s like “yeah, they’re gonna give you a really hard time”. So we got to the airport and we got our boxes and it was really like daunting because there’s just a line of customs agents like standing right next to the undeclared line and we were just walking by, and i was just like “hi guys, what’s up?” I just kept walking, and thought “they’re gonna stop me if they wanna stop me.” We just walked straight through and nobody did anything, it was amazing.

Sean: We’d heard that if you, if they do call you on having merch just to say it’s promo. ‘ah, we’re just gonna give this to radio stations and promoters to, y’know, for putting up the shows and stuff.’

Ben: It’s hard to sell that though, y’know, when you have like 200 t-shirts

IC: It’s a big radio station, they’ve got lots of listeners

Sean: Well, y’know, you could say we’re going to, we’re going to that big festival and we’re just gonna give a load of free stuff out. Get our name out there. We’re really ambitious. *laughs*

AB: *laughs* You released a new record last year, but can fans expect any new AJJ material soon?

Sean: Erm…Yes. We’re writing songs right now for a new full length album, and that’s coming out in 2011 at some point. We also recorded a really fun radio session last night and, depending on how good that sounds, we might have a little tour EP or something out.

Ben: We’ve been working on a split. I don’t know how many inches it’s gonna be, but it’s gonna be a record. A split with O Pioneers! from the states. We’ve been working on that for about two years now, and it’s almost locked in and ready to go. That should be coming out before…

Sean: …the Armageddon

Ben: I’m not gonna say, because it might jinx us, but it will be coming out at some point. It looks like the ball is rolling on that one.

IC: Good stuff.

AB: Yeah, definitely. So you guys are from Arizona and there’s a pretty controversial law surrounding your home state. I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about it, but guys like Rise Against, Kanye West and Rage Against The Machine have said they’re not going to play in Arizona because of this law. I just wondered how you felt about that.

Ben: I mean, if they want to do that that’s fine *laughs* I like to think that the law doesn’t represent the majority of Arizona’s residents, but the polls would suggest otherwise. I disagree with the law and I’d also like to mention that the Governor who passed the law wasn’t voted in by the population, but elections are coming up and, I hope not, but it looks like she could become our legit Governor so…

AB: Do you think this militant approach is the right one to take? Can it work?

Sean: It’d probably be way more effective if it was like Kid Rock and Toby Keith boycotting Arizona instead of a bunch of bands like Rage Against The Machine. Well college bros like Rage Against The Machine, but I notice, on the Sound Strike roster, there’s a lot of indie bands and they’re not really gonna make a difference. Being so small, they could actually do a lot better by coming to Arizona and having voter registration booths at the very fucking least. Boycotting has worked with Arizona in the past to get Arizona to recognise Martin Luther King day as a paid government holiday. We were one of the last states. It took a Public Enemy song, Stevie Wonder and all of his friends boycotting, the Super Bowl bring moved from Arizona. They hit Arizona in their wallet and then Arizona finally tapped out to justice, but the boycott’s not big enough yet. If the Super Bowl, Kid Rock, Toby Keith, Justin Bieber, The Jonas Brothers, Hannah Montana, all those big money making entertainment streams decided to cut their flow from Arizona, yeah it’d totally work. That’s not militant. That’s smart to me.

Ben: I’d say that, even more than that, it’s the conventions that have been canceled and those are huge. Phoenix in particular,  because it’s a destination people travel to from all over the world, because it’s beautiful in the winter and nowhere else is like that in winter. So canceling those and moving those elsewhere will have much more of an economic impact on Arizona than a rock show.

IC: Has it affected any of your shows?

Sean: Just kids asking about it. It’s affected our interviews a lot.

AB & IC: *laughs*

IC: We thought we were really original with it.

AB: You’ve broken my heart now

Ben: Well you’ve done your research. I would also just like to mention that most of the bands I’ve seen since the legislation was passed have brought it up during the show. They typically say ‘we disagree with this and we’re preaching to the choir’, because most of the people who go and see the bands that I go and see are pretty much on the same wavelength.

IC: Yeah, definitely. Finally, if Chuck Ragan, Henry Rollins and a shark had a fight, who would win?

Ben: Are they all fighting against eachother, like a Royal Rumble?

IC: Yeah, yeah

Sean: Three creatures enter, one creature leaves. I’m not going to call a shark a man. Is it a man shark? Is it a shark with beefy arms?

AB: No, just a shark

Sean: Is it in water or on land?

IC: We’ve had to discuss this quite a bit, so we’ve decided it’ll be in space.

Ben: If the shark had a gun…

All: *laughs*

Ben: …I think Henry Rollins would win

Sean: I agree.

Ben: And that’s all I have to say on that

AB: Well thankyou

Sorry for the delay on this everyone. We’d like to thank Sean and Ben for putting up with us for those twenty minutes. Thanks to Naomi Barker for transcribing this as well. It may never have gone up without her.

One Response to “Interview :: Andrew Jackson Jihad”

  1. Jason says:

    French Quarter is still a very active band, and the lead singer’s name is pronounced and spelled “Stephen Steinbrink”.

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