Interview: Abandon the Ship

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The 1990’s was a great time to be a rock music fan. Hair bands were pushed out of the mainstream by Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and the whole grunge movement. Punk rock “broke” with Green Day, The Offspring, and Rancid. MTV still showed great music videos. And tons of folks were influenced and started playing music; Guys like Creature, Joe, and Shawn – collectively known today as Charleston, WV based group Abandon the Ship. The guys have taken their love of the 1990’s alternative rock movement and balanced touches of punk, grunge, and alternative to carve out their own unique niche while paying homage to those who paved the way. We had the chance to catch up with the guys and chat with them about their music, their forthcoming EP Overboard, the songs they’ve been sharing on their social media pages, playing charity shows in their area, and much more!

1. You’ve self-described your music as being a combination of punk, grunge, and alternative influences that equals crunchy pop. For someone who hasn’t heard your music yet, who are some of your biggest influences and how do you bring them all together to give you a unique sound to call your own?

Creature: We pretty much just play a combination of all the music we listened to growing up in the 90s, and our sound is really just a reflection of that and our own individual play styles. 

Joe: I remember as a kid during the old MTV music video days; I loved watching those crazy-ass 90's music videos like Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box" or Soundgarden’s "Black Hole Sun.” That's really what inspired me to learn guitar. I wanted to be in a crazy ass music video.

My personal favorite artist’s and the bands that influenced me are 2 different animals. My biggest musical influence is Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, and my second is Frank Black of the Pixies. Something about them just screams rock and roll being played the way it should be; Loud and noisy as fuck.

2. What can you tell us about your forthcoming EP Overboard? What can we expect from it, how many songs is on it, when are you planning to release it, etc?

Creature: We're recording, mixing, and mastering this EP all on our own and it's been a bit of a learning process for me in just learning recording techniques and how to use the actual software. We don't have a scheduled release date yet, but there will be seven songs on it and we’re over halfway done recording, so hopefully it will be out by the end of this year or the beginning of 2020. 

Shawn: It will be a mix of all the types of influences that helped create the sound of our band. Currently trying to find our sound.

3. You’ve been giving fans a taste of the EP on your Facebook page over the past few weeks. The newest song posted is “Cry Wilderness.” Why did you choose to give fans this song as the latest one to help further hype the EP?

Creature: Yeah, that one is kind of a train wreck. We’re going to re-record that one before it comes out on the official release, but I've just been kind of throwing up the songs on YouTube as I finish mixing them. 

4. Other songs from the EP that you’ve posted include “The Ballad of Denny Rey” and “Rub Hubbard,” the latter being the first taste of the EP you gave fans. Why did you feel that “Rub Hubbard” was the best first representative of the EP?

Shawn: I think “Rub Hubbard” is a great collaboration of all the music the band enjoys. 

Creature: We put “Rub Hubbard” out first, because in addition to being one of the best songs we have right now, it also turned out really really good in the mastering process. I'm pretty proud of how that one came out. 

Joe: I would say that “Rub Hubbard” is probably our catchiest song. I really dig it a lot and it really shines as one of our greatest songs on the upcoming EP.

5. Earlier this year (September), you put a song titled “All My Heroes (OD’d on Heroine) on your Bandcamp page. Tell us about that song. Who are some of those heroes you are talking about?

Creature: Haha! For that one, it's just really kind of a comment on the music industry and how so many talented artists fall into the trappings of addiction. Hell, we can look at any of the bands we grew up listening to like Nirvana or Sublime where someone in the band just couldn't control their addiction and a talented artist was taken away too soon. 

6. Which one song from your catalog do you feel best sums up what your music is all about and is the one that someone who hasn’t ever heard your music before should listen to first in order to get the overall idea of what you do?

Creature: I don't think any one song really sums up our sound. I mean if you listen to “All My Heroes” it's going to give you a taste of what our grungy stuff sounds like. If you listen to “The Ballad of Denny Ray” it's going to give you a taste of more what are Punk stuff sounds like. And then we just got off-the-wall stuff like “Rub Hubbard” and more alternative songs as well. We're all over the place really. 

Joe: I agree with Creature and I will add to it. Honestly, I never want to get pinned into any type of genre. I think by doing that you’re only limiting yourself. What happens if we get a kick ass effects pedal, but we can't use it because we are a punk band? Nah, fuck that.

7. You play a lot of shows around your Charleston, WV home base. What can people expect to see when they come out to a live show that just listening to your music isn’t going to give them?

Creature: Balls

Shawn: We try to target a high energy crowd that wants to have fun and enjoy simple songs. We also try to create all ages type of songs and have a mix of heavy and soft. 

Joe: When people come to an ATS show they can expect that by the time they leave they will have at least one of our songs stuck in their head. We write sing along songs, so if you’re at one of our shows feel free to sing along. Hell, come up on stage and take over the mic! 

8. About shows; you will be taking part in the Holiday Hooligans concert on December 13, 2019 at the Mountain Pie Company on the River in St. Albans, WV. All donations received from the show will be used to purchase toys from the wish lists of hospitalized children. If moved to do so, how can people still help if they can’t be there in person?

Creature: Unfortunately, that show kind of fell apart and we've dropped out of it, but it's been taken over by the band Bettie and they have a killer lineup in place. Contacting Bettie would probably be the best route.

9. You’ve performed at a lot of charity/benefit shows including those to help with someone’s medical bills, the FWD Fest which benefitted the League for Animal Welfare, etc. Why is it so important to you to be a part of these types of shows? And is there a charity or two that you strongly support personally?

Creature: We just want to get out there and play. We're really not doing it to try to make money or anything like that, so if we can play a show and help out people or animals at the same time then why not, right?

Shawn: Giving back to the community is important. If an artist can use their talent to draw people to an event that gives back to the community, it's always a good thing. The community gives us the opportunity to have venues and places to play and in return we feel it's important to give back when we can.

Joe: Charity shows are really important because it demonstrates that not only can you play loud noisy ass instruments, but you’re just as human as the guy working for a firm making 6 figures. It feels good to be able to give back. Besides who doesn't need a few karma points?

10. We’re all about helping the next generation at, so we always end all 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 today?

Creature: Just put yourself out there, put in the time practicing, talk to people in the local scene and most importantly don't be a dick. It doesn't matter how good your guitarist is if nobody wants to deal with your ego.

Shawn: Don't focus on the popularity contest. You don't have to sound like everyone else. As a band you will find your own sound and being unique is what people want to see and hear. It's also important to focus on just being a well-rounded band. Practice makes perfect. Don't half ass your shows.

Joe: Practice hard and find band mates that you click with. Playing music is supposed to be fun.


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