The Impediments

Posted: March 14th, 2008
"We’re not automatons thinking that everything Johnny Thunders shot up his dick is totally rad."

Interview & photo by Eric Shea

You could pay money to see a bunch of aging hipsters sing about teenage kicks, or you can just check out The Impediments—who are the real shit. These four teenage scumbags live in Oakland, where they go to high school and play their ’70s-inspired punk ’n’ roll like they were the bastard sons of Jabbers-era GG Allin stealing from The Dead Boys’ stash of dope. In a musical climate riddled with dudes who still dig Morrissey a little too much, it’s refreshing to hear these teenage lobotomies play the kind of songs that make you want to cut class and spark a schwaggy doob under the bleachers.

Roll Call. Who’s in The Impediments, and what do they play?
Princess Nick Allen: Rhythm and vocals.
Ray “Cyst” Seraphin: Bass and vocals.
Mike “The Kyke” Liebman: Lead shredder.
Rene Macleay: Plays drums. Also likes to play catch with his father on sunny Sunday afternoons.

How long have you guys been playing together?
Ray: Almost three years. Too long for how much we don’t have it together.

How did The Impediments get started?
Ray: I started jamming with Mike and Nick in the summer of eighth grade. They would go hang out in Mike’s garage and smoke weed and eat mushrooms and do Aerosmith covers. They had long hair and were into the New York Dolls, so I was pretty down. Rene was the only drummer we knew at the time, so we had to settle for him.
Rene: Dick. Ray and I knew each other from middle school. I was in a band with a kid who thought he was Joe Satriani. Ray would come to practice a lot and get into fights. Eventually Ray started playing bass, and pretty soon we went through a ton of lame bands until we met up with Mike and Nick.

You guys have some pretty rad song titles such as “Do The Junk,” “Just Got Reamed,” “Fat Rails Of Blow,” and “Amphetamine Stepdad.” Who comes up with your song titles?
Nick: The titles are quite rad, but I feel their origins should remain a secret.

What was up with “Amphetamine Stepdad?” Wasn’t someone’s dad originally in an early inception of the band?
Ray: My biological dad was in the band for most of my freshman year in high school. We got stoned and did covers of the Dictators and the Pink Fairies. Nick was on a lot of coke. The “Amphetamine Stepdad” of lore was my stepfather of about 10 years. I’m not in contact with either of these persons, currently.
Rene: It was pretty weird. Ray’s dad sang in the band for a while. We were called the Phil Spector Shotgun Experience, which coincided with his murder trial. I guess people thought Keith was a bad influence on us, and he had a falling out with Ray. Funny thing is, we only really started fucking up badly once he left, but the music got way better.
Nick: When Ray’s dad Keith was in the band all of us knew it was pretty bad, but we didn’t know the extent of the badness. I had fun with it though, because I was just stoned. It didn’t last long. After a bit we couldn’t bare doing the same covers and not writing any songs. I guess Ray and Keith were having some troubles of their own and there was bitter tension. Keith stopped showing up to practice and we started writing songs and doing more “punk” stuff, then we played our first show as The Impediments. People who had seen us before were like, “You guys are way better without that old guy!” I felt kind of bad, but I guess it was for the best.

There seems to be a recent resurgence of bands emulating the ’70s punk vibe, with a lot of songs that touch on various themes of teenage life. Is it weird being one of the few of these bands with actual teenagers in the lineup? Do you guys get turned down from 21+ clubs because of your age?
Ray: Can’t really care about it. We are so far removed from bands like The Briefs and The Riffs that I don’t even think it’s worth discussing. We write what comes out of us; we’re not aiming for something. We’re not the Stitches. We’re not cool 20-somethings with spiked hair, neon colored sunglasses, and trendy heroin addictions. We’re not automatons thinking that everything Johnny Thunders shot up his dick is totally rad. We’re a bunch of dorky kids who like dorky records. We haven’t got turned down by a venue for our age as of yet, but we often get kicked out of bars after we’re done playing while they keep our draw.

Fun! Since there’s a lack of all-ages venues in the Bay Area, where do you play all-ages shows?
Ray: Unfortunately, all-ages shows don’t really happen with us. Nobody seems to really care about putting them together. Our seldom all-ages show is usually at a friend’s house. We’ve never played the Gilman or anything like that.

Have you guys been able to play out of town much?
Ray: Not so much. None of us have licenses yet. We hope to maybe tour Southern California, Portland, and Seattle during the summer.

Bet you would like that, huh? What else do you guys do when you’re not playing rock & roll? Ray: Boozin’ and losin’. Someone save me!
Rene: Nick likes to piss in the closet of Annie’s Social Club sometimes.

Do you guys get older rock cougar chicks sweating your ass after shows?
Nick: We are rolling in mediocre poon.
Rene: Mike almost scored with a chick that had just gotten bashed in the head with a guitar. She had a pool of blood in her cleavage.

Where do you guys go to school?
Ray: So far, I’m the only bona-fide fuck up. Everyone else goes to Berkeley High. In Berkeley.

Do any of you guys skate? Why do your songs make such an awesome soundtrack to slash pool coping to?
Nick: Mike and I skate a tad. But to answer your other question, our songs make such awesome skate soundtracks because of the spine-grinding guitar leads that leave you convulsing on the floor, the bone-crushing bass blasts that traumatize your sphincter and leave you lusting for it again and again, and the savage untamed back-beats that set the tone for destruction. I don’t know. What the fuck kind of question is that?

Shout it out loud!
Ray: Our boys in Apache, Nightling, the Time Flys, the Pets, Gzenghis Kahn, Annihilation Time, Traditional Fools, Snakeflower II, and Hot Lunch. Also, the fag haters in Warkrime.
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