Interview: Dead End America
This recording is a fitting tribute to Steve. He would be both proud and happy to see these songs released.
Dead End America are a band who play super fast and angry hardcore punk that spits venom at society’s ills and a certain US president in particular. They were formed by Steve Hanford aka Thee Slayer Hippy from Poison Idea who drums and sings on the record. Unfortunately, Steve sadly passed away earlier this year but Dead End America who are completed by guitarists Tony Avila (World Of Lies, Why Won’t You Die, Aborted Cop, Here’s Your Warning) and Ian Watts (Ape Machine, Minmae) with Nick “Rex Everything” Oliveri (Mondo Generator, The Dwarves, ex-Kyuss, ex-Queens Of The Stone Age) on bass and vocals, Mike IX Williams (Eyehategod. Arson Anthem, Outlaw Order) and Blaine Cook (The Accused, The Fartz, Toe Tag) contributing vocals have just released the Crush The Machine EP and it is four tracks of vital and pure hardcore punk and a fitting tribute by Steve.
Gavin Brown caught up with Tony, Ian, Nick, Mike and Blaine to talk about Dead End America and Crush The Machine, their memories of Steve and the possibility of working together again in the future.
E&D: Your new EP Crush The Machine is out now. How did the creation and recording of the EP go?
Tony: It went well, from agreeing to do a project to the song writing, the rhythm guitars and drums were done in a week. Everyone else recorded at different places, at different times and in different states. Ian mixed it all down. It’s amazing working with everyone on this. Everyone did a great job!
Nick: Steve sent me some drum and guitar tracks that him and Tony had recorded for me to put bass on and sing some vocals on a track. On first listen I was pretty stoked with the songs and put bass on the tunes! Mike IX put vocals on a track and Blaine put vox on a track and Ian Watts threw down some leads and did the mix on it I think it turned out fucking great!
Blaine: I believe this project is a loving tribute to our fallen friend Steve Hanford. He was working on a number of projects before his untimely passing. These four songs he was working on with Tony were really just the tip of the iceberg.
E&D: Were you eager to bring Crush The Machine out to celebrate Steve’s memory?
Ian: Yes, we were eager to get it out for Steve because he would want that. He lived for this stuff and so do we. He was our brother and we miss him but we know he would love to see this record coming out.
Tony: Absolutely, I can’t think of a better tribute than this. We knew we had to finish it. I think Steve would be happy.
Blaine: Steve was a prodigy from a very young age. Best known for his pounding drumming. He was well versed on the guitar and behind the mixing board. Very eager to keep one of his babies alive.
Nick: yes indeed it’s pretty important to all of us I think to finish the project that he had started with Tony and I reached out to Greg from Southern Lord recordings who I know is a big fan of Poison Idea and hard-core music and he gladly said he would put out the 45, I got a hold of Dirty Donny the artist to do the cover art and Mark Lanegan to do some liner notes which I thought would’ve made Steve happy.
E&D: Do you feel that Crush The Machine is a fitting tribute to Steve?
Mike IX: Yes, he would love this EP, It’s a bummer he’s not around to see the finished record but I know he’d be stoked as fuck.
Blaine: This recording is a fitting tribute to Steve. He would be both proud and happy to see these songs released.
Nick: Absolutely I wish it was longer though, more songs would have been great!
E&D: What are your favourite memories of Steve?
Ian: Sitting in the van late night on tour after shows and just listening to albums and talking music.
Mike IX: Steve was just a sweet, funny guy, me and him had lots in common and touring with him when he was drumming for The Accüsed AD was one of the funnest tours I’ve done in a while. The memories of talking about music and hanging backstage with Steve will be cherished. There’s a lot of illegal activities I won’t mention here…
Tony: Watching Steve play was pretty awesome, but hanging out with him was that and more. I miss him so much, he was such a good fucking dude.
Blaine: I met Steve sometime in 1985 when he was drumming for Mayhem. (the Portland Mayhem not the Norwegian death metal band). Steve was working on re-mixing the Mayhem LP. We spent so much time together over the years. Last year while he was drumming with the The Accüsed AD we had the chance to do a west coast tour with EyeHateGod, Negative Approach, Sheer Terror and Final Conflict. We had a great time spending all those hours in the van torturing each other with farts and salty language.
Nick: I met Steve in 1993 when I joined the Dwarves as a guitar player on the sugarfix tour. The band played the Satyricon Portland. He was cool, came back every time one of my bands played in town whether it be Mondo Generator, QOTSA, The Dwarves, Mark Lanegan, whatever band was coming through Portland, if he was free at the time or in town he would come down hang out with him very likable guy funny and cool. Not to mention I’m a fan of his work drumming and his producer work with Poison Idea which I later asked him to produce my band Mondo Generator’s latest record Fuck It and him and Ian Watts did that and it’s the best one we ever did so pretty happy about that and he will be missed.
E&D: Were you big fans of Poison Idea and what are your favourite records and memories?
Mike IX: Of course! I love all their stuff but especially when Steve was drumming. Feel the Darkness is a beast of an album but all their material influenced me from a young age. Every record; Kings of Punk, Pick Your King, Blank Blackout Vacant and on and on.
Tony: After I moved to Portland and started setting them live, I became a fan. Favorite record, Feel The Darkness is my favorite. The reunion show here in Portland where a lot of ex members came up and did some songs. That stood out and was really cool. I’ve never seen them play bad, it’s always good, really good!!!
Blaine: I went even farther back with PI. Both PI and the Fartz started playing around the same time in late 1980 early 81. You’d never want PI to be in charge of buying beer for the post show house party. They’d always show up with a case of warm Old English 40 ouncers.
Nick: Yes! Feel the Darkness in my opinion is the best hardcore record of all time.
E&D: Was it always the plan to have Nick, Mike and Blaine on vocal duties for the tracks?
Mike IX: Steve had asked me to do something with him back in 2018 when I was in Portland on tour with my band. He was working on the Fetish album but we texted everyday and kept in touch. I’ve been an Accüsed fan since I was kid and I’ve been friends with Nick since EyeHateGod toured with Mondo Generator years ago… I’m psyched to be on this record with everybody here.
Tony: Steve and I never talked about who else was going to play on it at first. At first I thought it might be just the two of us. Then, while recording, Steve was like, let’s get Nick, let’s get Blaine and Mike. Of course I was into all of that.
Nick: Well, I know Steve and Tony hand picked everybody that they wanted to be singing on this and I think everybody involved I know I am really stoked to be part of this.
E&D: What was it like working with each other on the record?
Tony: Everything went great and everyone did a great job. This record rules!!!
E&D: The lyrics are straight to the point anti establishment raging at the current government in the US, in true punk style, was that always your intention with the bands songs?
Ian: I believe that was always Steve’s intention.
Nick: Steve asked me to write some lyrics and sing on a track and he said the thing was it had to be about Trump because all the songs are gonna be about that.
E&D: Who are some of the band’s influences? Poison Idea and The Accüsed will be up there I’m sure!
Mike IX: That is correct.
Tony: I literally pitched it to Steve, Poison Idea mixed with the Accüsed. My take on both bands of course.
E&D: Do you feel that the music of D.E.A. is a modern day version of songs like ‘Fucked Up Ronnie’ by D.O.A. and ‘Democracy’ by The Adolescents?
Mike IX: I love D.O.A. and the Adolescents, but the 80’s seem tame by today’s corrupted political standards. I think this D.E.A. record is needed in this climate.
Tony: Sure, they were talking about what was going on in their time and we’re doing the same now.
Blaine: Political songs that this project represents would lean more towards the Discharge side of things. Does this System work? For obvious reasons, the system doesn’t work for most of the population.
Nick: I was against the system as a kid in the 80s and I’m against the system as an adult in 2020.
E&D: What are some of your favourite anti government punk and hardcore records of all time?
Mike IX: There’s so many different great ones, but Discharge and Crass put out real honest statements of those times.
Nick: The UK Subhumans The Day The Country Died, Dead Kennedys Plastic Surgery Disasters, D.O.A. War on 45, to name a few.
E&D: Do you find it depressing that songs like those are still relevant today?
Mike IX: Absolutely, but this type of protest music is a way to speak our minds, no matter what era.
E&D: Who did the killer artwork for Crush The Machines and do you think that it sums up the music of D.E.A?
Tony: Dirty Donny and yes, Trump snakes, plus that old school style, it rules!!!
E&D: Mark Lanegan did the liner notes for Crush The Machines. How did you hook up with him and are you pleased with what he delivered?
Tony: Not sure how we hooked up with him but yes.
Ian: Nick roped Mark in, but we are also working on another project involving Steve.
Blaine: Mark was part of Steve’s entrance into the world of hard drugs. Mark documents those times in his book. That whole drug scene that saw a resurgence in the early the 90’s. They maintained a strong bond.
E&D: Would you ever work with Mark on any musical projects?
Mike IX: I’d be honored and I’m waiting on the call hahaha.
Ian: Yes, of course.
Tony: I’d probably wanna hit him up if I did something fitting for him. He sings well!!!
Blaine: That would be one of the greatest things to happen. As his vocal style is the polar opposite of the other styles that are on this EP.
Nick: I have and would again !! For sure!
E&D: Have you got any plans to release further material in the future at all?
Mike IX: I would gladly work with these guys again in any capacity, but Steve’s passing has affected us all as friends of his so it could never be exactly the same. It’s a one of a kind tribute to Steve Hanford and it’s special in its own way. It’s a call that would have to be made by everyone that was involved since the beginning.
Ian: I think we have something brewing already.
Tony: We do actually have something else in the works: A follow up of sorts, most of us, all of us and or even someone new people will be involved. Except this time, it’s going to be more focused on The Accüsed. We are calling this record Throne For A King.
Blaine: If everyone is on board. There’s no reason why this group of guys and maybe even a few others couldn’t get together and make more music.
Nick: Tony and Ian sent me a Jam session they we’re having with a new track it was fucking great and I would be honored to do more with them and the rest of the D.E.A. crew.