Fancore


Interview: Poison The Well guitarist Ryan Primack
November 23, 2009, 5:36 pm
Filed under: Interviews | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Modern hardcore pioneers Poison The Well have had quite a year. The Florida five-piece have been tearing round the world in support of their masterpiece “The Tropic Rot”, the most progressive release of the band’s career. We caught up with lead guitarist and band leader Ryan Primack to talk tours, the future and where this is all going.

You’ve been on a tour of the UK with Rise Against and Thursday, what sort of reception have you been getting so far?

A: The shows that we’ve played with Thursday and just us have been really good, it’s been our normal crowd really. Some of the shows with Rise Against have been really funny, some of the crowds have been super receptive and then some of them have looked at us like we have seventeen hands growing out of our face! It’s been great!

Have you been checking out the sets of the other bands?

A: Yeah every day. Us and Thursday are poor so we didn’t bring anyone to help out onstage. As soon as I’m done playing I’m out onstage making sure everything goes off good for Thursday so I see them every single day. I’ve caught quite a bit of the Rise Against sets, it’s pretty epic. We’re noticing in Spain it turned into an Iron Maiden concert almost cause people were humming along to their guitar riffs just like they do on “Fear of the Dark” (for Maiden).

You’re touring the new album “The Tropic Rot” at the moment, how do you feel the album turned out?

A: I’m pretty happy with it. I’m as happy with it as I am with any record, which means that when it comes out I already hate it (laughs). But that’s how I usually work, everything for me is a work in progress. Everything I do, in hindsight, five minutes later I think is shit. It’s normal for me though.

Have you figured out the next step in terms of where PTW are going on another record?

A: Polka party (laughs). We’re probably going to try and keep reinventing what we do. Sometimes it’s tough when a bunch of guys with zero common sense try to produce something, but you do what you can.

Was the recording process a smooth one?

A: Yeah, this time it went really smoothly. I don’t know if that is good or bad. Maybe it’s better if you have to fight it out.

Has the new line-up helped with this?

A: We all got on really, really well. I only had to kick them six or seven times. In the face.

Do you feel you sound tighter live with the new guys?

A: Now we do. It was a little shaky at first but now it’s definitely come together.

This is possibly your most progressive-leaning album to date, was this a conscious decision or something that developed over the making of the album?

A: It’s pretty much something that naturally happened, we just put together songs, did what we do and hoped for the best and it came out at least mediocre. I’m just one of those people that is incredibly self-defacing about what they do. 

How have the new songs been received live so far?

A: Good, the one’s that we’ve been choosing to play have been going down pretty well. I think maybe next year we’ll start breaking out the more obscure ones and see what happens. We’ll try and gently break it to people.

Often with bands that have a progressive sound you see them performing their whole albums live, is that something you’d ever do?

A: I would totally love to do that, but we’d have to have a bunch of extra people besides the five of us. I wouldn’t want to just do it on (backing) tracks like some bands do. To me that steals away from the point of seeing as band live now. We’ve been trying to get Andrew from Thursday in to do keyboards but he really doesn’t want to do it.

Why not?

A: He really doesn’t like me (laughs). There just hasn’t been time to figure it all out. He’s my favourite dude ever, in the world. More so than Jesus.

Who plays keyboard on “The Tropic Rot?”

A: I do but I didn’t want to put it down there because on (previous album) Versions it looks like I have a laundry list after my name. I felt self-serving and a little embarrassed to be tooting my own horn so this time I just put that I played guitar. I don’t want to be the kind of musician who’s like “check me out!”

Do you plan any UK headline dates in support of the album?

A: Hopefully, we did like, a couple earlier in the year but it was really brief. We don’t have anything for next year as of yet. We kind of went real heavy for this year, people kind of need a little time off. We’re all growing older as people. Sometimes you just want to be at home for a little bit.

PTW are cited as a huge influence on a lot of hardcore and metalcore bands. Oli Sykes from Bring Me The Horizon recently mentioned you in Kerrang, and we spoke to UK band Your Demise last issue and they also cite you as a big influence. Would you say you notice a lot of bands that are cast in the same mould as PTW, and how do you feel about influencing so many acts?

A: I’m immensely flattered. I’m one of those people who never quite hears it though. I’ve been told by people “That band like totally rips you off man!” and I don’t really hear it at all. They just sound like a band doing heavy music you know? None of us reinvented the wheel, or invented a better shaped wheel. I think that the fact of the matter is there were a lot of people in America who had a similar idea at a similar time and some of us got lucky. There’s a lot to be said for the fact of people saying it had an immense influence. It almost seems to me that it a direct musical influence as much as the idea that you can do whatever the fuck you want. Make no apologies about it, just do whatever the fuck you want. Make sure what you’re doing is honest. Maybe that part of the influence I can see because I think that throughout our career the one thing that has remained constant is the big middle finger in the face of those saying “Well if you just do the same thing you’ll be more successful.” That’s why we’re all poor and happy.

We consciously know we’ve made decisions that have negatively affected our popularity but at least we made the decisions on our own. I would rather fail while being honest than succeed while selling somebody a farce.

What sort of negative feedback have you got in the past?

A: It’s not heavy enough, you don’t sound like a hardcore band anymore or this is pussy shit, which is usually an American one. Completely with no real reason. Mostly stuff like “There’s no mosh parts so I’m bored” I can completely live with that.

Do you feel that you’re damned if you evolve and damned if you don’t?

A: You’re screwed no matter what so you might as well at least do what’s honestly in your heart and soul. I’d rather fail and be honest like I said than sell a farce and be rich. Besides then I’d be miserable “Oh my life’s a joke!” That’s why they’re miserable, nobody’s out to get them they just realise their life’s a joke.

Who are your biggest influences at the moment, and have they changed over time?

A: All my things that were my influences when I started writing music with the band are all still there. It’s still an amalgamation of late 90s hardcore, 80s hardcore, punk rock from all generations, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, early metal.

Now I just have more, all that stuff is still there but there’s also soundtrack music, obscure country artists, instrumental music. I still think the root of the matter is when I want to get excited about life I still listen to Bad Brains. I’m still a hardcore kid. When I’m in a great mood I put on Leeway: Born To Expire. I just don’t mosh in my room any more…not that I ever did, that would be so uncool! Hey we were all fourteen once!

At Fancore we are all about championing the cause of up and coming bands as well as more high-profile acts such as yourselves. Are there any unknown bands you would recommend to our readers?

I always take a chance to plug one of my friend’s bands cause I think they’re fucking awesome, a band called Furious Dudes from Miami. Just a really cool, sloppy punk rock band. I guess lately I’ve been listening to this American band called The Carrier a lot. We played in Adelaide with this band called Chorus, who were really good.

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