Clenched Fist

There's no need for introduction here. If your hardcore education doesn't include Clenched Fist you are seriously missing out. Seven years after their debut full length, the infamous Memphis band is back with another punch of pure old school hardcore. Check out what singer Juicy Joel had to say about it!
There's no need for introduction here. If your hardcore education doesn't include Clenched Fist you are seriously missing out. Seven years after their debut full length, the infamous Memphis band is back with another punch of pure old school hardcore. Check out what singer Juicy Joel had to say about it!

There was about 7 years gap in between your previous album and Just Like Roaches. What’s been happening with Clenched fist since the "Welcome To Memphis" came out?

Band members leaving or having kids is what happened. Stuff like that makes it very hard function as a band and it still does.

So at what point you decided it’s time to get your shit together and release some new music? When did you start writing new songs?

We never "didn't have our shit together" We started writing songs before "Welcome To Memphis" even came out. It just takes a long time for CF to do anything because everyone has other priorities in their life. We also do everything on our own. We pay for our own recordings and merch and book our own shows. And that money is saved on the side, outside of rent and bills and all that. Nothing CF does comes easy or quickly.

And what’s the status of the band right now? Apart from the album, are there any other activities going on with it like playing shows or touring?

Yes we are playing shows when we get asked to. We try to do anything people ask us to play. We would like to go to Europe some time. That would be great.

Having listened to the new album plenty of times now and I gotta say I got what I was expecting from you – straight in your face hardcore with honest, no bullshit lyrics. What was the process of putting together Just Like Roaches like? What we the main influences when you were writing new songs and did you have any vision how you wanted them to sound?

The process for writing songs in CF is pretty typical. A riff or some simple idea starts the whole thing off, then the song is put together and arranged, then I write lyrics to it. Sometime we'll play new songs live before I have any lyrics and I'll just make shit up on the spot. That's how "Dying at 33" on the new record came together. As far as influence goes, it's the same thing as it's always been...NYHC and Cleveland HC basically.

So how do you feel about the new album now when it’s finally out? How do you think it compares to your previous records? Is there anything different on this album that people might not expect to hear, like clean vocals or shit like that?

I'm pretty happy with how the record came out. My brother was there helping me the whole time I did my vocals and the record is better because of it. And we recorded the record at the same studio that has done ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Al Green, Three 6 Mafia, and many many others. That was a big deal to me. There are gold and platinum and even diamond awards all over the place there. And as far as what people can expect goes, if they're familiar with CF then they already know what to expect, just pure hardcore. No clean vocals or soft parts or any of that shit. CF will never do anything like that ever.

Is there any lyrical theme to the album? What are some of the topics you touched this time?

There is no central theme to the lyrics. Every song is different. The song "Just Like Roaches" is a whole metaphor about the band and how we will never stop. "Summer Avenue Bastards", which I wrote with my brother, is about ourselves and how we grew up. Other stuff I touch on are memories of dead family members, loneliness, and things that disgust me about the modern day hardcore scene.

So far, the album is available just as a digital download only. Where did this idea come from?

The album is digital only in the USA because most people over here don't buy CD's anymore. We're not a well known band at all so for us to print up thousands of CD's that only a few people will buy is stupid. So we decided to put it up online for free. People can pay for it if they want to or they can have it for free. It's their choice.

Are there any plans to release it also on physical format like CD or vinyl?

Yes. Filled With Hate Records will have a special CD version of Just Like Roaches in Europe later this month (Feb 2010). It is a special CD that is packaged like an old style vinyl LP. There are 26 tracks. 10 from the new record Just Like Roaches and 16 old demo tracks that are not available with the digital download version.

Hardcore has always been more than music. What aspects of it appeal to you the most? Do you think it changed the way you live your life and see the world in one way or another?

Yes hardcore definitely changed how I am in my life. All of my friends came from the hardcore scene. And I still go to a lot of shows and meet new kids and see new bands. A lot of people my age have given up on hardcore or they think "it's not like it used to be". Of course the scene is different now. New kids learn everything from the internet and a lot of what they learn is wrong. But if no older dudes stay around and teach these young kids how to do things then the scene will be terrible. I have been a part of the hardcore scene for literally half my life and I learned a lot from people I met here. My dad died when I was 7 years old. People from the hardcore scene taught me lessons that my dad wasn't around to teach me.

Hardcore is also full of shit talkers and Internet thugs so when you play in a band it’s probably hard not to hear some stupid stories about yourself . What was the craziest gossip you’ve heard about your band?

I've heard rumors about CF jumping people for no reason or starting trouble or something like that. Which is all bullshit. Those rumors were really from the early days when we were kids.

You guys have been around for so long and probably many kids come and go. Is there anything you wish the younger generation knew about hardcore that they’re not getting right?

I think a lot of kids today pretend to be something they're not. A lot of them think they are street thugs and they love to pose for pictures they put on the internet where they try to look hard. Young kids need to be comfortable with themselves and whatever they are naturally. Also young bands needs to learn to book their own shows and manage their own bands. Too many young bands want to have a manager and a booking agent and all this bullshit that they don't need. A lot of these young bands have no idea what it was like to tour before there was GPS, the internet, and cellphones. It was very different and more difficult.

Many kids find themselves less and less connected with the hardcore scene as years go by and they grow older. Do you think your attitude in this matter changed throughout the years?

For several years I worked in an office every day and I didn't ever travel or go to that many shows and I thought all the new bands sucked and that all the new kids were faggots. Once I quit my job and started my own business I started touring with Death Before Dishonor and helping out with This Is Hardcore Fest and I realized that there are some good new bands and some new kids who will turn into lifers. The scene is definitely different now but it's not dead. It just needs older people to lead by example. I love hardcore and will never leave it.

You’ve been always representing Memphis scene so what’s happening over there right now? Who are some underrated hardcore bands from your area that you think deserve more attention?

The Memphis scene is pretty small and it's pretty much always been that way when compared to other cities. Some bands in Memphis to check out are Dead City, Bury The Living, First World, Pulltrigger. They can all be found on myspace and have music available.

How about the punk rock scene? Are hardcore and punk rock scene in Memphis united as one or is there a division between them?

I hate punk rock. But if you want to know about a legendary punk band from Memphis, check out Pezz.

From American perspective – what is your opinion about European hardcore scene? Has European bands influenced you in any way?

My brother plays in Death Before Dishonor and they play Europe a lot so I know about a lot of the European bands. And most of my friends from other bands also tour Europe a lot. Even from years ago I listened to Backfire, Kickback, Rykers, Out For Blood, and Stormcore. I bought all those bands' records when they first came out.

What's the best food joint in Memphis?

Central BBQ ( is the best place for food in Memphis and the rest of the world.

 My last question would be if you weren't into hardcore, what do you think you'll be doing?

There's no way I would be into anything other that hardcore so I don't know how to answer. I never did any of the normal shit people are supposed to do in life. People ask me sometimes "what were you like in high school?". I was into hardcore, I played in Clenched Fist, and I went to shows. I hated school and all the shit normal kids did. I'm still that way now.

Thanks a lot for your time man! Any last shout outs or death threats?

Any bands or record labels that need art, check me out at Look for Clenched Fist "Just Like Roaches" CD available in Europe from Filled With Hate Records later this month. They will also have CF shirts. Thanks man.

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