Interview: Backside Slappy

BACKSIDE SLAPPY

In just a few short years (2022) Virginia’s Backside Slappy will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their monumental EP No More Sad Songs. The band has played a large role in creating the thriving Hampton Roads scene with their brand of skate infused pop-punk and continues to do so to this day! Crazy to think that they have always maintained a skateboard affiliated sponsor as well. Outlook Skateboard Company was the first to jump on board in the early 2000's. Currently, Backside Slappy is sponsored by Hribernik Skateboard Company out of Richmond Va. We had the chance to catch up with Dave Chappell (guitars/backing vocals) and Jason Bryant (bass/lead vocals) and look back on their No More Sad Songs EP, talk about their music scene (then and now), and find out what we can expect from them in the near future.

Photo by: Megan Beizer/Fever Scheme

1. WOW! We’re just a few short years away from celebrating the 20th anniversary of your No More Sad Songs EP in 2022. Though songs like the title track and “Be That Way” were fan favorites, what is your personal favorite song from the EP and why?

(JB) Thanks for reminding us that we are aged, refined, time-tested (basically - old) especially since most of those songs were written between 2000-2001 prior to releasing the EP in 2002. Personally, “She Found My Heart” is my favorite song from that EP. I wrote it for my girlfriend at the time (now wife of 17 years), Jamie.

(DC) A Scotch aged 18yrs is considered mature and ready for consumption. The “No More Sad Songs” EP is very similar and ready for a new batch of younglings to discover. After all this time it still surprises me that we get requests to play these songs. (“Those Days” will have people reaching for their iPhones and posting to social media more than any other song we play.) For me, “It’s Over” will always be my favorite song off that EP. The lyrics, the energy, the constant changes, and that smooth bass solo just get my pumped every time we play it live. 

2. The No More Sad Songs EP was a big hit amongst your local scene and propelled your band to the forefront of it during that era of the band. What about your music do you think made it stand out from the pack of great bands in your local area and resonate with kids in ways that other acts at the time didn’t?

(JB) I think we just wrote songs that were honest to ourselves at the time (kids could relate), and we weren’t pretending to be something we were not (musical geniuses/sad emo boys). We just wanted to write and play music that was fun and bring enough energy onstage that people watching could have fun as well.

(DC) I agree with JB. That EP has a very interesting history. After a serious line-up change and musical direction, (7-piece to a 3-piece) and the addition of Zack Smith (RIP buddy) on drums things just clicked. We wrote the EP in a few weeks and hit the studio. The EP took a total of 12 hours to record, mix, and master. My apologies for the digression from the original question, I tend to get a little histrionic. What set us apart the most from the other bands in our area was the live show in my opinion. We always keep the energy high, engage the crowd, and like to add some in-between song banter. 

3. Speaking of your local area, back in the late 90s/early 2000s you were part of a great local scene in the Hampton Roads area with bands like Squirt, Ten Years From Now, The No Talent Show, etc. Why do you feel that scene thrived as much as it did and what role do you feel Backside Slappy played in shaping it?

(JB) I think the Hampton Roads area scene thrived as much as it did in the late 90s/early 2000s because there was so much raw talent in the area (it wasn’t just Missy Elliot and Pharell perfecting their craft, you know). Also, there were a lot of venues in Va. Beach and Norfolk that were accepting of original music. Being from the Peninsula, I think we in Backside Slappy had to prove ourselves to the bands “on the other side of the water,” but we quickly made friends and we made a mark with our version of high energy pop-punk.

(DC) Man JB has some well thought out responses! During that timeframe live music was still a staple at many local bars. Unfortunately for us those same bars required 3 hours of cover songs from 10-2 with 3 short breaks. I think the biggest role we played was convincing a lot of these bars to give us a chance. We booked shows with 3 bands total and filled the bar with our crowd. At the end of the night, even the regulars were happy to hear something different than the same old songs on the radio.

4. You're still out there playing shows with a whole new crop of local bands. How is today's scene in the Hampton Roads area and in what different, maybe even better ways, does it thrive in comparison to the past?

(JB) I’d say the scene today in the Hampton Roads area is much like it was when we first started: a lot of great bands writing great music with the DIY spirit of punk rock. However, I do think it’s better today as there are way more, small to midsize venues for touring bands and locals to play. And with guys like Rollie (151 Productions) constantly bringing in huge national acts, there’s even more opportunities for locals to get added and play their music to huge crowds.

(DC) The scene today is a solid mix of old and young rockers and only getting stronger. I think people are slowly coming back around to original live music and want more than just a DJ. Bars like the Sandbar (Formally Philly’s in Newport News), Taphouse (Norfolk), and many others still support live music. Additionally, social media outlets like Hardcore Norfolk have created a more efficient way to find out who is playing on any given night.

5. It's time to plug someone. Which band from your local scene today do you feel people need to be listening to and why?

(JB) If I’m only allowed to plug one band that I feel people need to be listening to, I’m gonna say, Single Use Plastic. They’ve got a great punk rock sound and they’re a lot of fun to watch live. I guess Old Scars, Boxford, Red Weather, Wring Out, and Spirit Gun will have to wait until more than one plug is allowed or we figure out some loophole to mention more than one band to go check out.

(DC) Only one band seems to be an unfair question. If you want that super raw, in your face punk rock, “Ratbox” is the band to check out. Maybe one day JB and I will get off our lazy butts and fully start our own record label (Escondido Street Records). If, and when we do, bands we would work with that haven’t been mentioned would be The Nerve Scheme, Shake Your Baby, Drop the Girl, Audio Strobelight, Kepone Cowboys, and InValuable.

6. Warped Tour (at least as a touring festival) sadly came to an end in 2018. You played at its Virginia Beach stop in 2005. What are your favorite memories of playing Warped Tour?

(JB) My favorite memories of playing the Warped Tour was pulling up in the morning in our Dodge 18 passenger van and parking next to all the huge tour buses and campers and watching all the sleepy roadies stumbling out to brush their teeth. Playing the show was great, but it was the little things like that, and meeting people at our tent before and after our set.

(DC) I think I was really drunk that day and don’t remember too much. Must have been a fun show.

7. You have another big show coming up at The Taphouse in Norfolk with The Pietasters (September 28, 2019). What are you most looking forward to with this show?

(JB) I’m mostly looking forward to watching The Pietasters tear the roof off the Norfolk Taphouse! And finally putting out some new merch.

(DC) We have a long history playing with the Pie Tasters. First time was in Blacksburg, VA the home of Virginia Tech in 2003. Super rad show for sure! Also, The Taphouse is a super tight venue. Small and intimate. As of today (9/10/19) pre-sale tickets are close to 75% sold. The show will sell out and the place will go crazy, just like it should.

8. Of all the bands you've shared the stage with over the years, is there one band you've always wanted to play a show with that you haven't yet?

(JB) For me, it would have to be Lagwagon!

(DC) Less Than Jake would be super cool.

9. So, what comes next for Backside Slappy? Is new music in the works? A new album or EP? What can fans expect from it, if so?

(JB) New music is definitely in the works. We’ve been busy writing new music and we plan to record at least 6 new songs before the end of the year. Fans can expect that even though we are a bit older than we were when we last released new music, we won’t be singing about staying off our lawn, tying your shoes, or making better choices - yet. 

(DC) We are very fortunate to still be playing music and yes new music is in the works. Album, EP, or just release one song at a time are all questions only the future will answer. It would be a shame if we didn’t give some love to our drummer Jason Burton. He was the former drummer for Ten Years From Now and is a straight up beast on drums. He’s also single and ready to mingle ladies!

10. We're all about helping the next generation at allageszine.com, so we always end all of our Q&A's with this question. What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with their first band?

(JB) My advice to someone who is just starting out with their first band today would be to just keep writing and working on new stuff. Play shows as often as you can and learn what works in each song and what doesn’t. Above all, just have fun.

(DC) May I quote Aaron Barrett, “You might think that it’s cool to get up on the stage and play rock and roll with your heart and soul, but no one shows up and your songs all suck and there’s no applause and no flying bras, no girls will scream for you and no one’s gonna sing along with you.”

Seriously though, if you decide to start a band have fun and play with people you like a lot. You become a family. There will be ups and downs, arguments, and a ton of great memories.