Best Friends: Nikki + David Forever

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Nikki is a photographer, Office Manager at Output, bar manager at Over The Eight, event coordinator of the noise series Nothing Changes, and sometimes she DJ’s. Castillo books bands at St Vitus, co-owns Over The Eight, and he plays in Primitive Weapons and White Widows Pact.

When and how did you meet each other?

Nikki: David & I met when I was still in High School in the later part of my senior year. I was still shooting bands back then and I recognized him from the scenes we ran in. I think we were introduced at a house party after a Taking Back Sunday or Brand New show?  Maybe David can confirm this. All I remember was a show that was at Back Street Blues in Rockville Center.

Literally a week after we met my prom date bailed on me, and David swooped in there even though we were new friends. He said he didn’t have a tux and showed up in a Silver Merc suit. He killed it.

David: I met Nikki at a Love Lost but Not Forgotten show at Back Street Blues in Rockville Centre, Long Island. Then we went to some weird ass after party far out east where I got totally annihilated and still don’t remember how I got home. I think my friend Ramsay hooked it up.

What was your first impression?

Nikki: I definitely had an impression of David before I met him. He was working with the Humanist Ethical center crew and was definitely politically active to a degree. I also remember him being pretty crucial mosh dude back in those days  😉

David: That there was a mysterious babe hiding behind that camera …

At what point in your friendship did you realize you were best friends?

Nikki: Hmmm, this one is hard to say. There was definitely a time we lost touch a bit. I moved to the city immediately after HS; it was a couple of years before a lot of my friends who went to shows moved here. So there was a brief period of time we didn’t speak very much. Once the LI flock started migrating into the city & BK we rekindled our friendship and over time we became besties.

David: This is a bit complicated because Nikki and I did date for a brief period of time, then she moved away to go to SVA while I was still living on Long Island. After some time had passed without speaking, our good mutual friend Cory told me I should reach out to Nikki. I did and we ended meeting up. From that moment forward I knew I felt very strongly about her but the context totally changed. I couldn’t predict the heights our friendship would take but over time BFF status was unlocked.

What is the most embarrassing thing you have done to each other? Or witnessed happen to one another?

Nikki: This isn’t very embarrassing but it was a very fun moment for me. Basically when I was living in Philly I had a chance to choose David to speak with Ian Svenonius at my friends store Juanita & Juan’s for a reading he was doing. He had come up to see me for the event and it was just a great moment for me to get to do something like that and surprise him. He was a long-time, massive Make-up / Nation of Ulysses fan.

David: Man we’ve had countless blurry nights. I think we are kinda hard to embarrass. We kinda revel in ridiculousness.

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What’s your favorite thing about each other?

Nikki: Without sounding too much like a hallmark card: my favorite thing about D is that he is always there no matter what. He’s like a brother to me.

David: Nikki is like my sister. It’s hard to imagine life without her. I’ve always admired Nikki’s eye for aesthetics. The gal has impeccable taste.

Can you think of a time when s/he gave you especially good advice?

Nikki: Countless amounts of time!

David: Old friends are pretty indispensable and I like to think that Nikki has seen me change so much and vice versa that we can be really be honest with one another. If I’m acting up she’ll put me in my place gently or not so gently. Those moments are always the most galvanizing and stick out. She also told me my wife was a winner way back when. 😀

What’s the best band s/he introduced you to?

Nikki: Refused

David: Nikki really was one of the first people to expose me more to noise, power electronics and a grip of industrial. Picking one group is tough but she definitely shaped my taste in those areas.

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Now that you have been friends forever, what do you talk about?

Nikki: Everything and nothing … work, bands, shows we are working on. And, how many steaks I owe him!

David: Everything from work and music to total bullshit. It’s the best. Nikki is really funny.
Something new that I really like is that Nikki’s been producing a lot of events so we get talk about and collaborate on different projects. That has been really rewarding. She is doing an awesome job with Nothing Changes and Over The Eight, couldn’t be more stoked for her.

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What events or shows do you have coming up?

Nikki: Yea a lot actually. Nothing Changes is a weekly event. In addition to that we just put in a new stage at Over The Eight, so stay tuned for the events that we will be booking there as well!

UPCOMING EVENTS:
Nothing Changes @ 131 Chrystie St, New York, New York 10002
10/28/15 – Rodger Stella (ex-Macronympha) // H.C.O.D (Fieldwork) // Debbie Djs Dallas & DJ Do-Gooder Dude

Nothing Changes @ Saint Vitus, 1120 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222
10/31/15 – Wax Idols // Them Are Us Too // Azar Swan // DJ Becka Diamond Halloween Extravaganza

David: Check out Saint Vitus Bar and Over The Eight. We got a ton of great stuff happening and I’m stoked on the upcoming calendars for both spots.

Primitive Weapons

White Widows Pact
New Album – True Will

Zeena Koda: Life isn’t that serious, enjoy it

Zeena Koda

What was your first metal (or punk) experience? The band, concert or album that made your knees buckle, because you knew you were in love.

Zeena Koda: The area where I grew up wasn’t necessarily saturated with personalities who liked any form of rock music. In fact, I was probably one of the few to really latch on earlier and find like-minded musical friends. My first experience with listening to non-rap or r&b music was actually the Cranberries “Zombie”. It was so new and interesting to me to hear a woman’s voice put up against such heavy guitars. I fell in love with the sound and from there dove in and went all the way. 

I traded a lot of mixtapes in high school with the hot ass hardcore dudes on my bus. When I discovered hardcore, it really clicked with me. It’s street, it’s heavy – gangsta, no fucks given attitudes with respect for others who are loyal to you. Fuck yeah, that was me. I just knew I wanted to make that kind of music, it became an outlet for me in a way no other musical form had.

I can remember going to shows at this shitty venue called The Cove in Roselle Park, NJ when I was in high school and thinking this is where I need to be. The energy of heavy music, the I don’t give a fuck attitude was basically that piece of my DNA I hadn’t identified till then. It’s hard to pinpoint one instance that made me fall in love, but growing up in the music scene as both a fan and participant has been such a huge component to my identity. Once it gets into you, it becomes a drug.

Zeena Koda

First band you played in and the latest band you’ve played in?

ZK: At one time I actually wanted to be a Broadway star, believe it or not. I was involved in musical theater into college and was even a music therapy major at one point. How my life has taken many turns. The first band I was in was with this one dude making trip-hop. I kick myself in the ass for never holding on to some of those recordings. From there I was in a tech / profit metal band called Human Design for a bit. Until I joined Aphonia, which I was in for like 5/6 years. Loved that band, it was super sexy, emotional, heavy tunes. Currently in a band called Gazelle. We’re putting out an EP. I just love to keep myself inspired and creative. I love taking on weird projects too, keeps you on your toes.

Zeena Koda

Zeena Koda

What are some Jersey bands you love(d) that never got/get enough attention?

ZK: Great question. So so many. It’s incredible how many bands work SO hard and put in so much work that isn’t heard by everyone following popular music. A few bands that pop into my mind: Burnt By the Sun, The Postman Syndrome, God Forbid, Trophy Scars, The Sun The Moon The Stars. So many. I’ve been privileged to have known so many talented people.

Zeena Koda

Boxx Talk. What’s been your favorite episode to record so far?

We snuck into the SiriusXM studios to record an episode, that was fun. Everyone loves a “fuck the man” nod. 🙂

What’s next for Boxx Talk?
Working on moving the Litterboxx podcast to Dash Radio by this summer and building our content. It’s been such a journey for the last year and I don’t plan on stopping, I want BoxxTalk to be something for everyone. I want dudes to feel like there are some women out there who understand them at the core level too. Life isn’t that serious, enjoy it.

What albums/bands are you into right now?
A nice mix of my norm. The new Harms Way album “Rust” is phenomenal. Literally lift to it on the regular. Killing the new Title Fight album, Travis Scott and a lot of Kali Uchis. Sad Girls Por Vida.

Extreme Woman: Joanne Filipone

this is part of a photo series i’ve been working on since 2011. it is a collection of photographs of badass women involved in metal, hardcore and the borderline metal/punk/avant-garde worlds. these are the people who make up the music scene. these are my friends.

Joanne Filipone

Meet Joanne Filipone. She’s a show promoter, Slayer lyric memory bank, and all around awesome person.

What was your first metal or punk experience?
Joanne Filipone: Ooooof I have no idea!  I was a little kid hearing Blondie, The Clash.  Was totally obsessed with Adam & the Ants in 2nd grade. My sister took me to see the Cure in 7th grade. By 9th grade I was going to shows regularly so I can’t remember!  I got to see a lot of bands that don’t even play anymore. I saw Crash Worship probably at least a dozen times.  

How did you get into booking bands?
JF: I used to book friends bands and then someone asked me to take over booking at the indie venue Sin-é on the Lower East Side. From there I started working with the crew at Europa. Then I started booking independently all over NYC. Like 90% metal. 

Joanne Filipone

I think it is your fault that Mutant Supremacy and Attake became two of my favorite bands, back when I was writing about music. You booked them often. And it’s crazy to see the evolution of Winslow, Kurt, Robert and Sam’s writing and musicianship (even though Sam stopped playing music recently, the boy was a threat!). So, what I’m getting at here is, isn’t it awesome to see bands grow year after year? And, what bands disappeared that you wish were still doing their thing?
JF: Apparently it’s my fault Mutant Supremacy formed! Sam & Robert met at a Vital Remains show I booked in like ’07 I think.  They’ve had a bunch of line ups. They’re killing it now. It’s awesome. And it’s Curt with a C. Or Mutt Mutt. Or Curty. Ha. I do miss Atakke but Trenchgrinder is my favorite local band.  And honestly it’s hard to say who I miss seeing live because 99% of the time a band will reunite when you least expect it. Fingers crossed on Nausea haha.   

Joanne Filipone

How did Slaywhore form?
JF: Hahahaha. Welllllllll Alyson Barrett & I were out at a show I believe.  For some reason we started talking about Lez Zeppelin, AC/DShe, Mistallica, Queen Diamond etc.  I exclaimed, “We should do Slayer! And you’ll do the riffs on a keyboard!” We were laughing really hard. Our friend Lesley (now of Mortals and Belus) asked what was so funny and we said, “You’re on bass.” She said, “Okay.” Then our friends egged us on. Then we asked Caryn (Mortals) to play drums. The rest is history haha. It was just a funny thing we did. Like once a year. 

What was one of the coolest shows you played with Slaywhore?
JF: We always played with Mutant Supremacy and Attake. They’re all a blur honestly. We played at CB’s before they closed haha. 

Joanne Filipone

If you could put together a birthday show for yourself, with any bands, at any venue, who and where would you book it? It’s a fantasy, so you can even book dead people.
JF: Darkthrone, Bolt Thrower, Amebix, Slayer circa ’86 Black Sabbath circa ’70 at Parc Güell in Barcelona.  

Join Your Idols: Ron Varod

Kayo Dot

[ This is an interview series highlighting musicians who go from being a band’s biggest fan to being in THAT band. The title is taken from the hardcore band Kill Your Idols. ]

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At what point in your life did you discover Kayo Dot?

Ron Varod: I was really interested the downtown NYC scene right after high school in about ’03 and checking out a lot of shows at Tonic and similar venues. I saw that Tzadik released an album by a goth metal band called Kayo Dot and checked out some samples on their site and really dug it but kinda forgot about it.

A little while after that I saw KD were playing a last minute $4 show in Philly opening for Dillinger Escape Plan and knew I had to check it out. They had 9 people on stage and it was super massive sounding, I knew that as soon as they struck the first chord of the first song (Marathon) that this was my new favorite band! (Even with a handful of bro-ey dudes behind me screaming really crude shit during the whole set to Mia and the other asian female violinist at the time.)

What was the album that drew you in and how did it affect you?

RV: Even though people were being really rude during their set, by the time I got to the merch table all of the copies they had of their only album at the time “Choirs of the Eye” were sold out, so I ordered it online the second I got home and listened to it non-stop until they released the next album a few years later. It was really interesting and progressive music that still had a lot of emotive qualities, up until then I didn’t really think that was possible.

What were you doing before you joined Kayo Dot and how did you join the band?

RV: I had a band up until 2 years ago called So is the Tongue that played a few shows (including our first) with Kayo Dot, sort of a prog-metal trio that I sang for and did the majority of the writing. I also played and still do play solo shows under the monkier Zvi (http://ronzvivarod.bandcamp.com/) that I’m actually taking on the road end of August up to Canada and back.

I sort of crept into Kayo Dot slowly. After they had mutiny of the ‘Dowsing’ lineup at the end of what I heard was a shitty tour, I subbed for a one off gig at an avant-rock festival they were scheduled to play at Tonic. I was super stoked to do that one and then sat in years later to do the only live performance of “Stained Glass”. A little after that they asked me to sub for Mia on a european tour winter 2011 and I’ve been playing with them since.

Ron1

After being in Kayo Dot for 3+ years, what would you tell your younger self about the band? What about life and music?

RV: Going on tour is awesome, it’s way better than going on some lame vacation and seeing a bunch of landmarks and eating local food. Touring is gonna be one of the reasons you still want to be in a band and “go for it”.

The guys in Kayo Dot talk about doody and weiners like anybody else you know and want to be friends with, they’re awesome dudes to hang out with, also they’re the best karaoke crew you’ll ever find.

Also you’re gonna be thrown a lot of difficult music that will frustrate the shit out of you, but try not to be a baby about it, you’ll come out a better musician and a more well rounded person at the other end.

Marry, Fuck, Kill. Bandmate version: Toby, Keith, Dan.

This game is super dark but I think I’ll go with this….

Marry Dan
Fuck Keith
Kill Toby

Why Toby?!

RV: Toby steals all my patch cables, dude’s gotta go.

Let’s say I’m 17, love extreme-avant-prog-metal and want to start a band. What’s your advice for me?

RV: Do it as much as you can now while you have the free time, you’ll get your chops up and hopefully work a lot on your own playing and songwriting while you’re at it.

Make being in a band fun, even if you’re the leader and the one holding the reins don’t be a dick about it, it’s just fucking nerd-metal music, girls aren’t going to like it anyway.

demos, My Fruit Psychobells, Bath/Leaving Your Body Map or Part The Second?

RV: I’m totally false and haven’t listened to much Maudlin even though it’s all on my iPod. I’ve probably listened to Part the Second the most. We did ‘Stones of October’s Sobbing’ once at a Kayo Dot show and it was a really fun to play and some kid just started screaming “oh my fucking god” over and over again like he was gonna cry as soon as I hit the first chord.

That “some kid” was probably Hock.

RV: Andrew probably wouldn’t cry, I don’t think he has emotions.

Nice try Ron. http://www.ultimatemetal.com/forum/kayo-dot/913828-ron-varod-appreciation-thread.html

RV: I DIDN’T MAKE THAT THREAD! I CAN’T HELP THAT THE KIDS FUCKING LOVE ME!

links:
https://www.facebook.com/SoIsTheTongue
http://kayodot.bandcamp.com/

ZVI Tour Dates:

Sat 8/16 New Haven, CT @ Anna Liffeys
Sun 8/17 Providence, RI @ Funky Jungle
Mon 8/18 Allston, MA @ O’Brien’s Pub
Tue 8/19 Danbury, CT @ Heirloom Arts
Wed 8/20 Hancock, NY @ FWF
Thu 8/21 Syracuse, NY @ Gorham Brothers Music
Fri 8/22 Toronto, ON @ Ratio
Sat 8/23 Ottawa, ON @ Black Squirrel Books
San 8/24 Montréal, QC @ The Plant
Mon 8/25 Burlington, VT @ Nectar’s
Tue 8/26 Portland, ME @ Geno’s

Best Friends: Nick + Lev Forever

nicklevbetter

Some time in the 90’s two boys from the upper westside befriended each other based on their mutual love for death metal. Eventually they ended up at the University of Chicago together and started the band Astomatous. Here is Nicholas McMaster and Lev Weinstein’s friendship story.

When and how did you meet?

NICK: I honestly don’t remember a specific instance. Lev was in the year below me in high school and his brother Zach was in the year above me. I had some mutual friends with Zach and just remember always being aware that he had a younger brother.

LEV: For serious, I have no idea. I mean, I do but I don’t. We went to the same high school. Nick was in 10th grade when I was in 9th and when you’re 14 and retarded, that seems like a big gulf, so I don’t recall us having too much interaction at first.

I started playing in a band and remember seeing him at some shows, but the span between that and us starting to hang out and nerd out about metal all the time is pretty hazy to me. Mike from Genghis Tron was definitely involved in the process. I think they had discovered Napalm Death and Cryptopsy through noise music and were like, “we should ask that kids who’s into metal about stuff.”

What was your first impression of each other?

NICK: Honestly, the main fact I always knew about Lev was that he was into metal. He was wearing Metallica and Pantera shirts for as long as I was aware of him. My musical focus in my early teens was industrial, idm and noise bands, and I liked some metal stuff, but I remember thinking that Lev “really” liked metal. Later in high school, when I grew more curious about the genre, I knew whom to ask about bands and borrow CDs from; I’d say that sort of marked the beginning of our friendship proper.

LEV: He was older and definitely cooler and wore huuuge fucking jeans. I think I kind of figured he would be a dick, and have a vague memory of being surprised at how affable he was when we actually started talking. Mike and he had recently discovered extreme metal and wanted to pick the brain of the one kid (me) they knew was into that stuff. I was really happy to have someone at school with the slightest interest in it.

Krallice
Krallice at Public Assembly, 2013.

At what point in your friendship did you realize you were best friends?

NICK: That’s kind of a tough one. I mean, as you get older you realize that certain early experiences are not reproducible. So for us, having been friends in high school, playing in several bands throughout college, then joining Krallice right after graduating and all that came with that– it’s like, that’s a depth of experience and bond that would be impossible to replicate with someone else whom I were to meet at my current age. At a certain point it’s like, of course Lev! Who else? I mean we even have the whole rhythm section thing going for us.

Being male, we’re typically unexpressive about our emotions, but at Lev’s 29th birthday celebration last year, after a few whiskeys, he said something like, “it’s been really cool playing music with you throughout the years,” and I concurred. I think that was the first time we’d ever acknowledged it, ha.

LEV: For me there was no Step Brothers moment. It was just a gradual process of getting more and more sort of entwined with each other, realizing I liked the dude immensely. I feel like the year when he left for college and I was still in high school was kind of a catalyst. He started shredding on bass, we traded music all the time, and had deep stupid AIM conversations. And my visiting him at school was huge in my decision to attend the same university.

Also, when he started to play bass at the end of high school, and managed to get really decent by the time I came out to college, that galvanized things for sure, as we wouldn’t just be generally hanging out, but constantly playing music together.

What is the most embarrassing thing you have done to each other?

NICK: At some point in college we were out drinking and around 3 AM ran into a guy with some mushrooms and of course decided that the best possible idea would be to each take a whole eighth. I had a really bad trip, as I usually do because I just don’t do well with psychedelics, and became convinced that I was dead, that the Christian paradigm was correct, and that our dorm was purgatory and I was awaiting judgement. Lev had left the room as I decided all this, and when he came back I looked at him and said, with utter seriousness: “why didn’t anyone tell me that Jesus was the answer.” Oh boy it took a long time to live that one down!

LEV: Fuck, I’m sure there’s a great and terrible story I’m forgetting. The first thing that comes to mind for me is when I was visiting him in Poland and got super duper wasted at the bar to the point where I passed out in the hallway and a dude had to come up to Nick and be like “your friend from America, he cannot stand.”

Nick dutifully dragged my ass back to the place we were staying and then went back to the party. I’m sure there’s worse that I’ve repressed.

My guess is on his end this would be when I tried to talk him down from a mushroom trip during which he was straight up convinced he was dead and my dorm was the really shitty afterlife.

Geryon
Geryon at St. Vitus, 2012.

And how did the other person come to forgive you (or vice versa)?

NICK: Well that was not really a forgive situation, as Lev was just extremely concerned. you’ll have to see the fist fight question for an example of Lev forgiving me.

LEV: We’ve always been pretty good at taking each other’s shit in stride. There have been a couple times over the years where we probably haven’t been each other’s favorite people, but we get over our bullshit pretty quick. For instance, when I was leaving Poland on that trip out I asked Nick to be my alarm clock that final night as my phone was dead. Woke up super late, missed my train, fucker put me on a subsequent wrong one, and I literally was within a minute or two of missing my flight (The airport in Warsaw let me straight up run through security). When I saw Nick a few months later I punched him hard on the shoulder and then have him a hug. I think that works as some bigger fucking metaphor or something.

You guys have known each other for a REALLY long time, have you ever gotten into a fist fight with each other? (If so, how did you guys make up?)

NICK: We haven’t. I thought really hard about this and this is the closest example I can think of, though I’m a little reluctant to share it because it shows what a little twerp I was when I was younger. Nonetheless, I lived in Krakow for 9 months and Lev came to visit for a week or so at some point. Generally we had a great time going to shows and drinking Polish beer. However on the last night before he was to leave, we were just sort of having a night in when a lady friend of mine texted me wanting to come over. She did and we all hung out for a bit, though it was tough because she didn’t speak any English (my Polish was actually decent at this point), so I had to translate between her and Lev.

Anyway we all decided to turn in and the only alarm clock in the house is my cell phone. Lev needs to take a train from Krakow to Warsaw to catch his plane, and catching the right train is important since the train and plane schedules don’t align that well. So he asks me please, please set an alarm and wake me up at the correct time. So of course I’m like, dude, no problem, I got you, then proceeded to have extremely loud, uh, relations with my visitor friend that keep Lev up half the night and caused me to completely sleep through the alarm, if I even remembered to set it. I woke up hours later than I was supposed to and woke up Lev, who realized he’s probably totally fucked now and rushed out to get the next possible train. On his way out, Lev said, “Dude, I like you, but if you’ve made me miss this plane, I’m going to kick your ass when I see you again in America.” Thankfully, he just barely made it, and so we’ve never had a fistfight.

LEV: Never once Have we had a physical altercation. We’re both pretty easy going people and neither of us are mean drunks. If we ever did fight it would be shades of Manute Bol versus refrigerator Perry and would probably be pretty fucking hilarious.

Geryon
Geryon at St. Vitus, 2012.

One time you guys had to fight skinheads in Poland. How the fuck did that happen? Who was the hero?

NICK: So this is during that same time period as the fight example. I was studying in a language program with lots of other people from all around the world, though mainly Americans and people from other European countries. A big group of us from the school was drinking at a bar near the town square in Krakow. At some late hour we decided to depart and were walking back to the dorms as a big group. One of the people with us was a guy from Africa. We see a group of five or so young men with shaved heads and boots who certainly look like skinheads eyeing us across the square. They get closer and start harassing the guy, yelling “black shit” in heavily accented English and sieg heiling.

So our group is like at least 25 people so I have to sort of admire these little nazi shitheads’ balls for challenging us. Basically it turns into a shouting match between the two groups. The African guy aside– who wanted to just ignore them and get out of there, our group was about half American and half Western Europeans. It was 2004, so early days of the Iraq war, and I remember thinking that the Americans were way more “interventionist”. They were the ones clearly looking to actually fight these guys for the principle of anti-racism. The Western Europeans were hanging back and wanting us all to just move on without violence. Eventually this one guy, I think his name was Andy, who was a Cuban immigrant whose family had escaped Castro and settled in Florida when he was a kid, threw the first punch.

Lev was slightly ahead of me. I was kind of between the more forward Americans and the hanging-back Europeans. All of the sudden everyone in front of me had paired up in fighting groups like it was a dancefloor and the beat had just dropped. It was winter in Krakow so the ground was covered with a fine sheet of ice, and Lev was wearing flat shoes. He’d gotten in some shots but the skinhead, naturally, had boots and therefore better traction. So Lev tripped and the guy was behind him. I hadn’t had anyone to fight and honestly am not sure I would’ve jumped in even if one had been right in front of me, but when I saw that Lev was down I rushed in — I saw that the guy had Lev from behind and had his hand in his mouth, trying to fishhook him. I pushed the guy off and we regrouped and by that time the Cuban guy had broken one of the skinhead’s cheekbones and they were sort of in retreat while most of our group had already fled, so me and Lev split.

LEV: The aforementioned trip to Poland was all kinds of fucking nuts. The night before this encounter we went to see the band Yattering play outside Warsaw, and then spent the whole night freezing and miserable in the Warsaw train station due to it being a Sunday and that country being crazy catholic. No trains after 9pm on a Sunday, fucks sake.

We took like a 6am back to Krakow and slept all day. That night we went out with a bunch of people from Nick’s language program, which was a pretty multicultural bunch, especially for Poland.

One of the dudes we were with was a quiet guy who had pretty much just arrived from Africa. We were leaving one bar at closing and trying to find another spot that might be open, crossing the main square of Krakow. A bunch of skinhead kids started talking all sorts of shit, spitting on the ground and calling the kid a black shit, etc.

This quickly turned into a shouting match, which devolved right quick into a fistfight.

Nick was absolutely the hero, at least pretty literally for me. I can’t remember if it was currently snowing or just had snowed recently, but at any rate we were fighting on this iced over cobble stone surface, and drunk. I remember throwing punches, sliding and falling, throwing more punches, etc. Until I went down hard on my ass and one of the skin heads came around my back and started trying to fish-hook me. I remember dimly thinking that this could actually kind of end really poorly for me and trying to get back on my feet but I kept sliding right back down.

I then heard a bellowed (he’s always been a good vocalist) “get off of my friend!” and Nick shoved the dude off of me, certainly saving me from a mangled face. I remember jumping back into the brawl, though the cops came and broke it up very shortly thereafter.

We were all ‘arrested’ but Nick, myself and this Flemish dude Jeremy simply kept going straight when everyone else made a left for the police station. I think we felt guilty and headed back to encounter the rest of our group, who had been pretty immediately released.

Geryon
Geryon at Death By Audio, 2014

What’s your favorite thing about each other?

NICK: I guess the thing I view as most singularly Lev-like is that he’s moral, honest, fair-minded and loyal to his friends. I have never once in 15-odd years doubted his intentions or integrity. How many people can you say that about?

LEV: I can’t really think of anyone else I know that I can have as fulfilling a conversation with about pretty much anything. The dude is super smart and super thoughtful about anything ranging from musical composition to I dunno, Italo Calvino.

I feel like he comes off as just as enthusiastic when talking about music now as a decade ago, which is something I certainly can’t say for myself. For the last million years he’s pretty much been my taste maker and advisor and there’s a somewhat strong possibility I’d still be listening to some terrible shit (or at least not discovered a lot ( a lot) of really good shit without him basically being like, “Dude. Listen to this.”

Now that you guys have been friends forever, what do you talk about?

NICK: Ha, good point. One of the nice things about writing music together is that each new song we generate sort of serves as the basis for more, genuinely new, conversation. But yeah, sometimes I think we’ll be in the nursing home still going, like “yeah, Vader’s De Profundis is the shit” for the millionth time, through false teeth.

LEV: Same shit, really. Probably aided by man-child existence, we pretty much still talk about good art and good music, or our own shit. What’s refreshing about growing up is that when these conversations occasionally segue into some heavy shit, it never feels weird or awkward. I think there’s a level of trust there which has to come from so many years and experiences.

[ Nick plays bass in Castevet. Lev plays drums in Anicon. They both do their thing in Krallice and Geryon. ]