“The beautiful thing about punk rock is it has always been a vehicle for commenting on social issues, politics, and any and all injustices in the world”
Over the decades, few sub-genres of punk have done more to speak out on social issues and take political stands then Ska. Proudly carrying on that tradition are LA’s The Interrupters, who won legions of new UK fans last month opening for Green Day. An opportunity which guitarist Kevin Bivona describes as ”such an incredible experience for us”. The tour saw the four-piece, completed by vocalist Aimee Interrupter, drummer Jesse Bivona and bassist Justin Bivona, rapidly winning over entire arenas every night with their irrepressible two-tone influenced sound. Opening up to Already Head about the success of the tour, Bivona was quick to acknowledge both the positive influence of their tour mates and their aim to simply have fun with the UK crowds.
“Green Day were so welcoming and kind to us and we learned so much about how to approach playing rooms of that size. We just tried to have as much fun as we could during our set hoping that the audience would have fun too”, he recalled. Not that making the step up to playing such big rooms overseas came without apprehension, something Bivona says was soon eased by the lesson the importance of mutual respect provided by the headliners. “Joining a tour of that magnitude was very intimidating at first. It was the way that we were treated by the Green Day and their crew that made us feel right at home. It really showed that the key to longevity is a mutual respect for everyone you surround yourself with. Your band, crew, fans and everyone who helps keeps a massive operation like that going. The tour had such a good “family” vibe which is something we can definitely get behind”, Bivona continued.
Some of the major pioneers of two-tone and ska originated from the UK, something which makes any visit to our shores extra special for Bivona and his bandmates. But he explained that they also take inspiration from a range of iconic British bands. “We are all huge fans of British bands. From the Beatles, Two-Tone Ska Bands, The Clash, The Buzzcocks, Cock Sparrer, the list goes on. The shows we’ve played in England always have an energy and intensity that really shows the passion everyone there has for music. It is contagious and makes touring there such a fun and special experience for us”, he said.
Bivona appears fully aware of the platform punk rock offers for both unity and protest and change around the world, and acknowledges the efforts bands like Green Day have made of continuing that trend. “The beautiful thing about punk rock is it has always been a vehicle for commenting on social issues, politics, and any and all injustices in the world. Green Day have done a great job of speaking up but at the same time always trying to unite people with their music”, he observed.
He also proudly describes this focus on unity that The Interrupters own punk genre has exemplified down the years. “Ska has always been a vehicle for social commentary. The political climate in Jamaica in the 1960s fuelled the spirit that created it. Same for England in the late 70s. If you look at 2-tone, you can clearly see the bands were breaking down boundaries of race and gender, thus making the scene all inclusive. It is that spirit of unity that still connects with people all these years later and keeps ska alive”, he explained.
Tracks like the fiery and hard hitting ’She Got Arrested’ characterise The Interrupters ability take sensitive and socially important subject material, and craft it into punk anthems with a message. The media is full of stories worthy of giving any punk band inspiration, but for The Interrupters the people and the community around them provide just as strong a source of subject matter. “Stories of injustice always inspire us to speak up and write songs, but at the same time, experiences that we or our friends and family have gone through, could be just as inspirational for us. Basically, anything that conjures up some kind of strong emotion within us is a good enough start”, enthused Bivona.
Just as much as punk rock can be a source of political messages and a rallying cry, it’s an even better form of escape from the divisions and headaches of society, as Bivona and his band have learned on their tours around the US. “What we have learned from being able to tour around America is, politics aside, people just want to go out to a show, dance, drink and have a good time”. He said.
Their UK tour Green Day was far from the first The Interrupters have rubbed shoulders with punk legends and icons, having previously played with Bad Religion and spent time in the studio with the likes of Tim Armstrong and Less Than Jake. Experiences that only seem to fuel the fire of Bivona to see how far his band can take their own careers. “We have been so fortunate to go on tour with the bands that inspired us to play music in the first place. We have learned so many valuable lessons as a band and as people from touring with each and every one of them, and this is just the beginning”, he stated.
‘Say It Out Loud’ by The Interrupters is out now on Hellcat / Epitaph Records.
Words by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright)