Killing Time

There are simple rules to this game and one of them is that you just gotta know how to sing along to any of the songs from the Brightside album. If you don't, you might as well give up on hardcore and live the rest of your life in shame. Kids who know what's up are already aware that NYHC veterans, Killing Time, are back with new album, Three Steps Back and it smokes! Read more to find out what's happening with the band now, what's the motivation for the new album and other stories.

There are simple rules to this game and one of them is that you just gotta know how to sing along to any of the songs from the Brightside album. If you don't, you might as well give up on hardcore and live the rest of your life in shame. Kids who know what's up are already aware that NYHC veterans, Killing Time, are back with new album, Three Steps Back and it smokes! Read more to find out what's happening with the band now, what's the motivation for the new album and other stories.

How does it feel to finally have an album out after all these years? Are you happy with the way Three Steps Back came out

Obviously, it is exciting to have a new record out after all of this time. And any time you put so much energy, thought, and creativity into a project, it’s good to see it come to fruition I think it’s also good to get back in the game and show some of the younger bands what we’ve got left, because we think we’ve still got something to say and can still bring it.

As far as the sound of the record, we are very happy. It’s definitely a raw, punk rock sounding record, and that aspect was intentional. We wanted to go in knowing the songs and just blast them out. There wasn’t a lot of “polishing” done in the mixing stage. I think it’s a shame that most modern hardcore records are so overproduced, so compressed, and kind of lifeless. We wanted it to sound loud, raw, and live, and I think we got what we wanted. Basically, we wanted it to sound like records used to sound.

What was the writing and recording process like for Three Steps Back? When did you start writing it and then when did the recording take place?

We began writing on January 1rst, 2008. Carl showed me some riffs he had been kicking around, which became the basis for the song “Inheritance.” Things just kind of took off from there. Carl and I would write a couple songs a week, record them onto our repective computers with just guitar, and email the demos to (Drummer Anthony) Drago. Some got rejected, but the ones that everyone felt good about we started rehearsing and arranging. We brought all our equipment back to Drago’s parents garage, where KT had written and rehearsed all of the material from Brightside back in the ‘80s. It was freezing in there, and all we had was a shitty little space heater to try to keep us warm. We literally had to play with hats and coats on until the spring. But we also knew that it was important that we practiced there and not in some fancy place in NYC. Anyway, once the arrangements were solid, Drago started writing lyrics like a mad man, though I think he may have had the lyrics for some of the early songs like“24” and “Mingus” before he had the music to those songs. We went into Electroluxe Studios in Brooklyn in June of 2008 to record. Throughout the fall/winter of 2008-09, we did all the guitar solos, some overdubs, and vocals.

Give us some insight into the record and the meaning behind its title?

Like I said, it’s just a loud, raw hardcore punk rock record. No filler, no bullshit, no shiny production values. It’s kind of a bummer that you don’t hear a lot of hardcore records that fit that description anymore. Lyrically, I think Drago step it up to the next level. The stuff he wrote is just amazing. Thematically, I think it’s still covering the ground that any punk band would. Getting old hasn’t really cured us of anger and frustration. We may have a slightly different perspective now that we’re older, but that doesn’t mean that life gets any easier. So in that sense, I think any fan of KT’s older stuff will find plenty to relate to on the new record.

In terms of the title, we had been kicking around a few ideas that nobody really loved. We were talking about it after practice one night, and Rich came up with the idea “Three Steps Back.” We all thought it was perfect, because it seemed to fit on a few levels. It’s obviously a reference to “Backtrack,” but it also the third KT full-length. It also fit the idea of going back to a more basic, raw, punk approach, instead of following whatever trend there is in the sound of modern hardcore.

When you look at all your classic records like Brightside, was it difficult to get past those and put out new music when kids hold your classics in such high regard?

I think it will always be difficult to get past a record like Brightside, simply because it is such a classic record. I wasn’t even playing with them when it came out. I was playing guitar in Uppercut, and both bands were made up of good friends. But even as a friend I remember being so stoked and impressed by how fucking great that record was, and clearly it has stood the test of time to become a definitive NYHC record. When they were making The Method, I was in the same situation, and I (as well as many friends close to the band) thought that record was brilliant. I still do. But Brightside cast such a long shadow, some people will always want to hold you to a standard based on it. And when I record is as classic as that one, you will disappoint no matter what you do. That being said, we didn’t worry about what people would think, because that kind of thing is out of our control. We thought it best to make the record that we wanted to make, and knew that if our hearts were in the right place, the record would be good and people would like it.

So for people who are familiar with earlier material, but haven't heard the new album yet, what would you regard as some of the major differences?

There aren’t many major differences. A lot of the reviews have mentioned that it sounds like something that could have come out in 1988, and for the most part, I agree. I think it has a lot in common with Brightside, but also the Method. But I do think it skews to an older sound, and with more sing-alongs than the songs on The Method. Overall, it’s a bit more punk than any other Killing Time record.

I guess New York City had always a big influence on your music. How do you think the changes that occurred in New York since the 80’ are being reflected on the new album?

New York as a city has changed immensely since 1987. I don’t think it affected the material one bit, because KT has always been a band that wrote from a personal perspective and avoided any political or social commentary. That’s great for some bands, and it definitely has a place in the pun k scene, but it’s just not for us.

On the album the music sounds a lot more punk rock influenced then on your previous albums. Is that route you were trying to go?

Yes, but not consciously. Like I said before, we wanted the way we recorded it and the sound of it to be more punk, but that was mostly in the sense of HOW it was done. We didn’t set out to wrote songs that were more on the punk rock end, though. But for whatever reason, that’s what was coming through. I think it’s safe to say that most of what we all listen to is more punk rock stuff that we grew up on, and I think that’s just the vibe that we had while writing. It ended up fitting in with what we were shooting for in terms of how me made it. I don’t know—maybe the way we went about it made us write stuff that was more punk rock, now that I think of it. But either we didn’t say “ let’s write songs that are more punk rock.” It’s just what came out.

Killing Time never had luck with going on tours. Is there going to be touring planned for the promotion of the new album? How realistic are shows in Europe this year?

Killing Time has never toured extensively, but it’s not bad luck. They have always been there for us to take, but circumstances have always gotten in the way. The band went to Europe in the early’90s, and we went back in 2006. We did Japan/S. Korea in 2007, and we’ve played quite a bit in the States the last couple years. There are some more shows around the U.S. this spring and summer. As far as making it back to Europe soon, I have my fingers crossed. We know the demand is there, and we especially want to play the new songs over there and show people what this new record’s all about, but it’s not that easy to make happen with us, for various reasons. But we really would like to get back there as soon as possible.

Hardcore has changed a lot since you started out. What’s been the biggest change in the scene since you came back?

There have been lots of changes in the scene. I guess the biggest might be how popular hardcore is. It’s not quite the “underground” thing that it once was. I guess in some ways, it’s a bit trendy. I guess the rise of the Internet has also made it easier to find out about bands or get records and for bands to promote themselves and gain a fan base. It used to be that you had to travel and play shows to spread your music, but now, a band can become “big” pretty quickly without having to put in much time playing. I guess that’s both good and bad.

How has the landscape of the New York hardcore scene and music changed in your eyes? What are your favorite current hardcore bands?

The NYHC scene has changed in the sense that there is no central “scene” any more. There is no CB’s matinee or other club that hosts a weekly show. There are scattered shows, and most of them take place in various clubs around Brooklyn, rather than Manhattan. I also think that there’s not as much creativity and variety in terms of the sound. As much as people think that there’s a NYHC “sound,” many of the early bands were quite diverse in terms of their sounds. I think the more metal-influenced stuff, like Cro-Mags, Leeway, and KT, kind of became what most people think of when they refer to NYHC, but there was more to it than that at one time. I think that metal-influenced stuff kind of went off in a bad direction and produced a ton of copy-cat bands that all sound alike. It seems to now be more about having clich√© beat-down parts and a scooped, metal guitar sound, without any trace of the punk part of hardcore. I guess it’s more of the metalcore thing now, which isn’t really what we’re into. And it’s a shame, but I don’t think many of us listen to current hardcore. Everyday Dollars is a NY band that I really love and listen to, but they are old friends of ours and their music sounds like something out of the mid ‘80s, so it’s not particularly “new” sounding.

Do you find yourself being influenced by new styles and subgenres coming up in the scene? I’m talking stuff like metalcore, beatdown, deathcore…

I guess my last answer can apply to this question. Those subgenres are something that hardcore morphed into sometime in the later ‘90s. We don’t listen to any of that stuff, nor are we influenced by it. We still listen to the kinds of punk and HC we did when we were teenagers. It’s just what we were raised on.

Being veterans in the scene, is there anything you wish the younger generation knew about hardcore? Is there anything that in your opinion kids are getting wrong these days?

I guess we would say just do it for the right reasons. The music has become big enough for it to become a commodity, and in some ways, it has. I don’t think that has to be a bad thing, as long as you are still doing it out of love and not some desire to make money. I think maybe some of the younger bands expect to form, write a few songs, and play huge shows and tour. Maybe some of them even pull that off in a short amount of time. I would just hope they would remember all the bands that came before them and how hard it was to do it when there wasn’t as much money and support available. Other than that, I’d love to see some younger bands try to find a way to do something original that still fits into hardcore. It’s tough to maybe strike out in a new direction in a genre that is so narrowly defined, but it’s not impossible. I just think too much of it sounds the same these days.

So what are some future plans for the bands?

We don’t think too far ahead in this band, but I know we are playing a bunch of shows to support the new record, and then we’ll take it from there. It’s great to know that there are so many KT fans out there who still want to see us play and check out any new material we have, so as long as we feel like we can bring it live and write good songs that we’re happy with, we’ll be around. Other than that, no predictions. When things don’t seem to be working with this band for whatever reason, it becomes “break time,” which frustrates a lot of the fans. But that’s just how it has always been. That’s the nature of Killing Time, for good or bad. Right now it’s going well.

Anything you would like to add before we finish?

Just thanks for the opportunity to talk about the band and the new record, and thanks to all the fans who have stuck by the band through all these years. We’re incredibly lucky to still have the chance to make the music we like and have people enjoy it. So thanks to all the fans.