We did everything. We did the blood, we blew up a washboard and smashed it, caught on fire. Everything you ever heard, we did it, except getting into fights!
ANTiSEEN are one of the most prolific bands in punk rock history with an awe inspiring collection of material and this coupled with their intense live shows, which are the stuff of legend cements their legacy, one which really embodies the outlaw spirit of punk. Gavin Brown had the chance to catch up with the band’s vocalist Jeff Clayton to hear all about the history of ANTiSEEN, their recent live-streamed gig, the follow up to their last album Obstinate and a whole lot more from the world of ANTiSEEN, including their recent single with Jerry A from Poison Idea, punk rock beginnings in Charlotte, North Carolina and their history with the infamous GG Allin.
E&D: You did a live gig on Facebook recently. How did the show go and what’s the reaction to it been like?
Jeff: Surprisingly well and without a hitch, and this is ANTiSEEN where everything usually goes wrong. Nothing went wrong. It went great and of last check, we were over 13,000 viewers! The response has been really overwhelmingly positive.
E&D: Did it feel strange to do it without a crowd?
Jeff: I suppose there was a part of it that did feel kind of odd, but going into it, we kinda knew we were just going to be performing to the cameras so we adapted and I think it went really well.
E&D: At the gig, you were doing the thing where you cut your head open and everything like a full on ANTiSEEN show. Was it always going to be like a proper gig more than almost like a rehearsal?
Jeff: Yeah. We did everything. We did the blood, we blew up a washboard and smashed it, caught on fire. Everything you ever heard, we did it, except getting into fights!
E&D: Have you got any plans to do any more gigs with that?
Jeff: That one went so well. I know we’re thinking maybe we will do it again in the fall.
E&D: Have you got any tour plans at the minute sort of reached scheduled, or where you due to be playing live?
Jeff: We are still on to do Muddy Roots, a festival in Tennessee in September, so that’s still on, but everything else is pretty much put on hold.
E&D: How have you been keeping busy during the lockdown period?
Jeff: I worked the entire time. I’m essential!
E&D: You have just done a song with Jerry A from Poison Idea. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Jeff: Yeah, it’s out now. I’ve already sold a bunch of them. Matter of fact, when you called, I was putting together record mailers. Yeah man, Cascade is also TKO records. They pretty much only have three bands on the label, us, Poison Idea and The Templars, none of us are real active, you know, road wise, but we are recording wise and we just figured it’d be great if we could have Jerry A do a song with us and we picked a wrestling song by a Portland wrestler named Beautiful Beauregard. We learned the song from listening to Rancid Vat do it for years. It just made sense that Jerry would be the one to sing with us, so as they say, the rest is history.
E&D: Are you a fan of Poison Idea as well?
Jeff: Oh yeah!
E&D: Have you been working on a follow up album to Obstinate at all and when can we expect it the new material?
Jeff: As a matter of fact, while Malcolm was down this past week, getting ready for the show, we finished up all the recording for a split single with some friends of ours from Mississippi called Before I Hang and we got three new pieces done for that, so yeah, it’s going to be constant recording, I think from here on out, we’re going to be doing a lot. We’ve got a lot of projects lined up that we want to do.
E&D: Have you get any plans to do another covers album at all?
Jeff: We haven’t really planned it. We did Hell a long time ago and there was always talk about doing the follow up that we would call Heaven, but we have not talked about that at all. Don’t mean it won’t happen. It just means it may take time!
E&D: ANTiSEEN covered everyone from Sun Ra and Curtis Mayfield to the Sex Pistols and George Jones. Who have you enjoyed covering the most and who would you love to cover in the future?
Jeff: We’ve been doing covers of some of the hardcore bands that I was listening to when I first got into this kind of music. We did a covers EP called A Dying Breed. It was all real obscure stuff except for The Osmonds covered. We got to cover a song by a Richmond band called White Cross. For the split we just did with Before I Hang, we covered an old Texas band called The Hate. We did a song of theirs called ‘Last Hymn’.
E&D: Are you missing being out on tour at the moment at all?
Jeff: To be honest with you last year, last fall when we travelled, I got really ill. I’m convinced that I had Covid-19. It’s the sickest I’ve ever been and I had every symptom. That would have been starting around the middle of November all the way til January.
E&D: Did you see a doctor about it?
Jeff: I mean, I don’t go to the doctor every time I got something wrong, you know, but I just knew this was especially bad and a friend of ours brought over, what’s called a nebulizer where I could do reading treatments three or four times a day. I usually go to the doctor, those are three or four hundred bucks a shot, and I was doing three or four a day for free. I’m convinced, that’s what saved me. We gotta get back on the road. We did a few shows at the beginning of the year. I don’t miss the traveling. I missed the playing but I don’t miss the travel.
E&D: When all this is over, do you hope to get over to the UK and Europe again?
Jeff: We hope so. We really hope so.
E&D: What have been the best and craziest tours you’ve ever done?
Jeff: Man, there’s always crazy moments to every tour, you know. I would say the longest tour we ever did, we did two months over in Europe, back in 95 and we have had a lot of fun and a lot of crazy times, but it kinda almost broke the band up, man. We’re just people that are set in our ways and we can’t spend a whole lot of time with each other, readjusting, you know, especially back when Joe was alive. I guess he and I together were a pretty difficult combination to travel.
E&D: Who have ANTiSEEN loved touring with the most?
Jeff: We always have a good time when we go on the road with Eyehategod. Their music is different from ours but I think that’s why the audience likes it so much, it’s something different before they come on and we always have a good time playing with those guys.
E&D: When you play live, did you want to always want to bring a feeling of violence and danger into your live show with the theater of a wrestling match or a raw version of like Alice Cooper, that sort of thing?
Jeff: Yeah, pretty much.
E&D: You played a lot with GG Allin. When did you first meet him and what are some of your favourite memories of GG?
Jeff: I first met him, well, we read an article about him in Maximum Rock & Roll. Joe and I did, and we were reading about what his shows were like and, you know, other than being naked and throwing shit, that sounded pretty much like our show. We’re just like, we gotta see what this guy is all about, so we kind of dared him to come play Charlotte and he did, and it’s now a historical show in Charlotte and that’s where our friendship started. He came on stage with us one time, but I’ve been on stage with him a few times. There were a few times where he’d asked me to just kind of stand in the back and do the background vocals with him and he says, Hey, if I drop the mic and disappear, keep singing the songs, so the band don’t get lost!
E&D: Can you tell us a bit about your feud with Buzz-oven and the legendary grudge match gig I’ve heard so much about?
Jeff: Yeah, man. That grudge kinda started out real enough, but then we decided, Hey, instead of, you know, really being at each other’s throat, why don’t we benefit from it and put on a big show, and we did. I attacked Kirk on stage and, and then he attacked me on stage and our audience tried to kill him and we just had a big laugh about it. Kirk’s been through a lot and we’re on a downswing now, but I sincerely do always wish him the best.
E&D: What was the Charlotte and North Carolina punk scene like in the beginning? When were first getting into it, and did you feel that obviously you didn’t really fit in hence the band’s name.
Jeff: Well, we didn’t but it was good enough. Theres only a few bands and we all kind of helped each other out, we didn’t make a plan, we just did it. I wanted every band to be different, we all came from different walks of life. We all had different opinions and different attitudes, and that’s what I liked about going to see punk bands when I first got into it. It was never like a cookie cutter way of bands like it is now. We just noticed really early on that there were a few people that called the shots and they were usually the most fashionable. We were just like, you know what, man, you know, we love this music. It’s big stylus but we’re not going to go around and dress like GBH. That’s not our upbringing, man. Our upbringing is working class, small town, Southern. So we decided to play that up. Something that we know. Something that we are.
E&D: Have you always felt that ANTiSEEN have always done your own thing and did it feel good when you found kindred spirits like GG Allin, Eyehategod, Buzz-oven that we’re doing the same sort of thing as ANTiSEEN?
Jeff: Oh yeah, when you find out you got allies.
E&D: How did you get into punk rock in the first place?
Jeff: Well, the first kind of stuff I was into was Alice Cooper. That was my first thing that I loved and after that, it was Kiss. I liked all the bands from that time period, the ones that were real aggressive rock at the time times, like Aerosmith and Ted Nugent, stuff like that. Then, when punk came along, it was almost like breathing a breath of fresh air, we were kids trying to learn to play guitar like Ted Nugent and being very frustrated cause you can’t do that, automatically but we heard the Ramones, we heard the Sex Pistols and The Clash and we’re like, Hey, you know what, we can play this kind of music and before long we were and that’s how it all started.
E&D: Horror movies and wrestling have been a big influence to you in the past. Are they still a big influence on you and your music?
Jeff: You know, I don’t really watch either anymore but my memories from both the enjoyment I got from both and I still watch old stuff so I guess it still does hang on in there.
E&D: Who are your favorite wrestlers of all time and what are your favorite horror films?
Jeff: Favorite wrestlers, Rick Flair, Bruiser Brody, Terry Funk, Big Bullies, Cactus Jack, Abdul The Butcher. The Freebirds, and as far as horror movies, man, I really liked the kind of came out of your country. The Hammer ones.
E&D: What have been some of the most memorable moments of your career with ANTiSEEN so far?
Jeff: Oh, man, there’s been a lot, you know, because when I was a kid in Charlotte, I had just moved to Charlotte, I’m going to community college and trying to figure out what I’m going to do, man. I’m starting to get into all this punk rock and I’m buying records and reading fanzines people like Tesco Vee, Negative Approach, Iron Cross, all that stuff, and then years later, not only do we get to share the stage with them, we become friends with them, and man, that has been a very rewarding thing, to just like, sit and talk with John Brannon, from Negative Approach or Wino. Just to be able to right now called Tesco Vee on the phone, you know, stuff like that. It means a lot to me, you know, cause I’m still a fan, even though I’m an old guy and jaded on a bunch stuff, I’m still a fan of all those guys, man.