Culture Abuse

Culture Abuse

David Kelling

By on 23rd August 2017 at The Deaf Institute, Manchester, UK



Tigers Jaw DI - Culture Abuse Aug 17

I meet with Culture Abuse in the downstairs bar area of The Deaf Institute where the band are gathered ahead of their debut appearance in Manchester, as we end up conducting the interview outside the venue at the band’s request so they can enjoy a smoke it’s impossible to tell who’s answering the question when other members of the band chip in due to traffic and background noise, but the majority of the responses were from vocalist David Kelling, so in the inauspicious surroundings of the alley at the back of The Deaf Institute I find myself interviewing Culture Abuse

Thanks for taking time out to talk to The Punk Site, how’s the tour going so far?

we’ve been gone for almost three months now, it’s been good, it’s been rough, it’s been fun, there have been ups and downs you know, but it’s been good

You’ve been on the road for a while now, where have you been before you hit the UK?

We went to Hawaii and started with a couple of shows there then we flew to New York and did an East Coast tour then it was over the UK to play Hyde Park with Green Day, then we headed over to Italy and stayed there for a couple of weeks and played music before we went to Amsterdam and stayed there for three weeks. Now we’re back here after doing a few festivals such as Lowlands and Pukkelpop, finally it’s this tour with Tigers Jaw and it ends at Reading and Leeds, then we’re going to chill for a few days before heading back home

How do you feel about playing the Reading and Leeds Festivals?

We’re on about 5.30 and … (at this point we’re politely ushered away from the venue by security as Culture Abuse’s smoke cloud was creeping into the venue)

I can take that out if you want

No man, leave it in, fuck it

Tigers Jaw DI - Culture Abuse 2 Aug 17Right now we’ve moved away from the venue, where are you all from and how did Culture Abuse come together?

We’re a west coast band, California from Bay Area, we’ve all been in other bands in the Bay Area music scene. We’re all kinda like the underdogs and outcasts so we all just grouped together and started this band

How long has it been since Culture Abuse got together?

it’s been going three or four years, when we first started the drummer that we had didn’t want to tour and I just wanted to play music, so I didn’t care, I mean like of course I want to be touring, this is what I want to be doing, but for the first couple of years we could barely even play outside of the Bay Area as our drummer just didn’t want to, and then we basically just had to get a new drummer and start hitting the road

Peach came out last year, which for me was one of the best album’s of 2016

Yeah, we were told we had to make that record, we didn’t even have a drummer at the time, so we got our friend in to do it, practiced four times and went into the studio to do it

I think that really comes across as Peach has a real live feel, what were the influences on the writing of the album?

Ramones, The Clash big time, Weezer, The Beatles, I mean we wanted to make a record that you could just put on regardless of the mood you were in, if you were like really happy or if you were fucking pissed, or if you were anything, we just wanted to make one of those records that you could you just put on in any situation

And now you’ve signed to Epitaph, which is a big deal

Yeah, Brett face timed me today just to talk about mixes of some songs we’re doing, it’s just crazy that the people we get to collaborate with and the people that are around us now are all so talented and insane in their own way, it’s so cool to think about where the future’s going to go. The person that we have to talk to about mixes, even when it’s oh fuck I’ve got to make a phone call, is Brett from Epitaph and Bad Religion, who also owns the fucking label, and he’s helped write, produce and engineer some of my all time favourite records, so yeah Epitaph, yeah it’s cool

Is there a new album or EP in the future?Tigers Jaw DI - Culture Abuse 3 Aug 17

We’re going into the studio at the end of September, we get back from this and we’re home for like ten days, then we fly to Riot Fest to play on the Jawbreaker day, we’re home for a little bit and then we go to LA and we start making the new record

Will you be coming back to the UK to play to tour or play any other festivals?

Yeah, We’ll be coming back to play Glastonbury for sure, if it doesn’t happen next year it’ll be happening the year after, maybe Rebellion next year then Glastonbury and then we’d like to come back and do Leeds and Reading again on the mainstage, then maybe Wimbledon and Wembley, yeah we’re playing Winbledon (chorus of laughter from the band)

Thanks for taking the time to talk to The Punk Site

Yeah, punk rock forever

Culture AbuseYou can read the live review of Culture Abuse at The Deaf Institute here

The Punk Site‘s review of Peach can be read here

Culture Abuse‘s website can be found here and their Bandcamp is here

Live photography from The Deaf Institute by Dean Unsworth

Dean’s Instagram account is located here

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Epitaph Records

Rating: 3.5/5




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By and large, this latest batch of tracks falls into one of two camps – those rattling full speed on a pair of run-away rails, and those totally chill, sunny day swaggerers. Those like opener “Track Fast,” “Street Punk Troublemaker” and “All American Neighborhood” take their old-school punked-up ways to heart. The latter uses a panicked pace to describe the upheaval and social disarray defining some of America’s most challenged neighbourhoods, drawing upon lyrical contrasts and simple irony to make their point.  These tracks aren’t so overly abundant as to single handedly define the album, but they are quick reminders of Rancid’s past, and how it still very much applies to the present.

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Greg Graffin



Rating: 3.5/5




Bad Religion frontman Greg Graffin has done it all.  From penning academic works exploring the interaction between evolution and religion, delivering lectures at the University of Cornell and University of California, to fronting one of the most celebrated punk rock bands of the past thirty years, little has remained beyond Graffin’s scope of engagement.  

For a man with so much on the go, Graffin has always budgeted a little time for himself.  This typically takes the form of a solo album about every ten or so years.  Each contribution has defined itself uniquely.  1997’s piano driven American Lesion was inspired by the breakup of his marriage, and 2008’s Cold As The Clay paid respects to the Americana that continues to influence Graffin’s songwriting.

His third outing, Millport, serves as a pure passion piece, of which Graffin has likened the organic nature of the songwriting process to that which led to the iconic Bad Religion classic, Suffer.  Performed in a straight up country-rock format, produced and co-written by Bad Religion songwriter Brett Gurewitz, the album features backing instrumentation courtesy members of Social Distortion.  In many ways, Millport is to Graffin what Nick 13’s solo work is to Tiger Army – a significant and passionately executed detour.

Millport is an album defining itself through a healthy dose of country-driven twang, with Graffin’s vocals following suit.  “Backroads of My Mind” sets the tone by kicking up a little dust and drawing gearing up the honky tonk.  It’s far from anything remotely resembling punk-rock, and once you get over the initial shock and embrace the underlying authenticity, thrives because of it.  That being said, Graffin continues to draw upon stylistic staples like sweeping vocal harmonies and steady melodies in songs like “Too Many Virtues,” alongside traditional elements ranging from shifting pedal steel to string plucking banjos.  The title track feels particularly powerful, serving as a significant album standout that weaves in each instrument and influence.  Like a classic Bad Religion song, Graffin latches onto a melody and squeezes every ounce of momentum from chorus straight through to the late song bridge.  Other highlights like “Making Time,” “Echo On The Hill,” and “Sawmill” capture a distinctly rural spirit, filled with subtle “woah ohs” and tuneful backing fiddle and mandolin.  “Time of Need” is a particularly noteworthy aside due largely to the infusion of gospel elements reflecting Graffin’s belief that at the very least, religion has afforded the world with a fine soundtrack.

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The Menzingers

The Menzingers

After The Party

Epitaph Records

Rating: 4/5




Philadelphia rough-punks The Menzingers arguably stumbled in their follow-up to their genre defining punk rock pinnacle, On The Impossible Past.  Perhaps it was nerves, or just wanting to try something new, but Rented World lacked the same double header of spontaneity and sophistication, instead coming across somewhat muted.  A valiant effort, but one that came up short.  Now on their fifth studio full length, After The Party, the band attempts to clarify the direction they set out to achieve on Rented World.  Time seems to have been on the quartet’s side, as on this renewed attempt the band seems more in tune with their intent, and grown into their age.

First things first though, After The Party is not an explosive showcase circa On The Impossible Past.  Rather, it’s evidence of a punk troupe settling into a more sustainable mid-career sound.  Comparisons have been made to bands settling into themselves – like Title Fight and Gaslight Anthem.  It’s hard to disagree.  While a punk band grappling with entering their collective thirties is no revelation, the band approaches the topic with tongue-in-cheek tact.  Opening with “20’s (Telling Lies),” The Menzingers formally close out their twenties and turn to making meaning out of the next decade.  “Everyone keeps asking me, what are you going to do now that your twenties are over,” Greg Barnett questions after rattling off lyrics about loose lips and late night dives.  The track closes out on a quiet note, with the band taking a somber look at their future amidst a dampening backdrop.  What follows is a collection of opportunities and ideas, like fleeing from “midwestern states” in a track of the same title, getting caught in the crosshairs of a love-interest’s ex (“Charlie’s Army”), or hiding one’s transgressions behind a family name and religious affiliation (“Bad Catholics”).  The Menzingers may frame After The Party with a single question, but they respond with a myriad of possibilities.

While The Menzingers may be leaving some of the zestful, youthful energy in the past, they remain every bit as capable of turning out chorus after chorus of catchy, ear-grabbing melody.  Sure, the average track is safer than past works, and Barnett doesn’t belt in angst as he did a decade ago (nor does Tom May blast his vocal chords as often as in the past), but the band’s passion and lyrics still land naturally.  “A little Irish in your blood, a little Polish in your name, a little Boston in your attitude, just the way you were raised,” sings Barnett on “Wings (Your Wild Years)” with a seasoned combination of entangled clean and throaty vocal calls.  His veteran cries run deep, with his clean vocals continuing to deeply impress for a guy with such a ragged set of pipes.  By and large, Barnett aligns his style with each track’s instrumental focus.  From mid-tempo toe-tappers (“House On Fire”), to embery slow burners (“Bars”), and quick pumping pulsers (“Cemetary’s Garden”), The Menzingers thoughtfully connect to each track.

There will be some people that continue to mourn what The Menzingers have since left behind.  But they are the same people that refuse to give up their twenties and would be well advised to listen closely to After The Party.  The worst that can be said of After The Party is perhaps that some of the songs feel comparatively “safe.”  But unlike complaints about Rented World’s toothless warbling, After The Party frames this comparative difference with lyrical and emotional warmth.  As The Menzingers make clear, growing old doesn’t necessarily mean growing up, even if you endure some inevitable maturation.  Or in reference to the title, life goes on – even after the party.