Total Abuse

Posted: December 9th, 2009

"I have no weird allegiance with people just because they skate."

Interview & photos by Peter Madsen

This here is a filthy, five-piece hardcore band from Austin, Oakland, 
and Brooklyn. Wait, and how is that possible? Drummer Matt Lyons has no idea. We recently met at a bar in Williamsburg during his lunch break. 
We only had 45 minutes, so he skated the four blocks from his job at a second-hand clothing store. Despite the distance, Total Abuse has released a few LPs, with their untitled next one—to be produced by Dean from No Age—
dropping sometime this December. Over some quick Lone Stars, Matt and I discussed how played-out the lo-fi trend is, his old job as bus-route editor, how it’s gay to like somebody just because they skate, and how he recently got duped by one reclusive New York skater.

About your band—you guys have a couple stillborn albums. It seems like a band as spread out as yours couldn’t afford that.
Yeah, we have a lot of stillborns. We record with people who are really cheap; as a result, the albums don’t come out as well. The rest of the band wants to record something more heavy and produced, but I’m just happy with the shitty, lo-fi recording.

Lo-fi is pretty trendy right now.
Yeah, I don’t really like the trend. A lot of bands are doing this distorted pop thing that’s super
fucking cheesy. They’re so happy-go-lucky, but there’s no reason to be.

Life sucks.
Life doesn’t suck at all. I think everyone in Total Abuse is a happy, funny person.

You’re saying the music shouldn’t be 
that way.
I don’t think the music shouldn’t be that way; I’m just not interested in this C-’86 pop throwback thing. I think this primitive garage band thing is just a waste of time.

You mean like Wavves?
Yeah, exactly.

He’s a skateboarder. He just broke his wrist doing it.
I have no weird allegiance with people just because they skate.

That’s the pull-quote!
At this point, skaters aren’t even unified at all. There are so many different types of skaters. When I was a kid, skateboarding was a really exciting, underground thing. Now it’s not. 
Now your mom thinks skateboarding is cool.

Total Abuse

I read Total Abuse broke up to pursue experimental synthesizer projects.
That was a joke. Our singer has his own noise project with really saturated synth stuff.

But you guys didn’t break up over it.
We almost broke up for a while because I moved to New York City from Austin, TX, where most of us grew up together. Three still live there, while one of our guitarists lives in Oakland. We’re just so spread apart right now, we didn’t know if we could make it happen.

Why did you decide to move here?
In Austin, I was the only one who wanted to practice. I stopped caring about the band.

How did you get to New York?
I drove my friend’s U-Haul. I had gotten back from tour and my terrible job said they didn’t have any more work for me.

You were like, “Take this job and stick it!”
Yeah, I was stoked! But then I tore my meniscus in my knee, so I was lying in bed all day. I couldn’t move, and I thought I’d never be able to skate again. I was drinking wine everyday when I woke up. It wasn’t good. 
Then a friend came to town from New York, and he asked me to drive his U-Haul full of stuff here. He said I could live with him for a month for free. I was going to get surgery because I had health insurance, but the doctor just shot it with steroids and the swelling went down. Now I’m skating again.

Suspect. What did you do at your old job?
I had gotten a degree in GIS, which is geographical information systems, like making maps and shit. I had gotten a terrible office job.

Are you a big fan of the cartographer Amerigo Vespucci? They named the Americas after him.
I don’t know who that is. I was never really into cartography. At my GIS job I would research bus routes to make them more efficient. The company would take a city like Chicago as a client. I would then take all this data about people’s commutes and try to make better bus stops and routes. I’m not a cartography or transportation freak. I just did it as a job to make money.

Are there any bus routes in Chicago you can point to and be like, I totally saved people a half-hour on their commute?
Oh, I don’t know. But my boss there was older and he was into hardcore. He would tell me how one of the first shows he saw was Black Flag in the mid-’80s. He thought he was cool because he was into that shit, but he was really just a jaded asshole. He wrote a shitty book about him going to hardcore shows like it was some kind of fantasy story.

You mean he was moshing with griffins and wizards?
No. That would be pretty fucked up, actually. He had really bad grammar and he was really naïve. But dude! Anthony Pappalardo came into my work today to sell a bunch of Converse. I bought a pair and when I got home I realized they were two left shoes! Pops is quite the con-artist.

Check out the Total Abuse myspace page to listen to some songs.
  • Violent Femmes Interview

    Violent Femmes Interview
    Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes adds it all up in this interview from our August issue.
  • Jereme Rogers’ “AIW" Music Video

    Jereme Rogers’ “AIW" Music Video
    J Rog kicks off his latest sonic adventure with this video. Check it and then stream the whole album. The contact barrier has been broken!
  • Pink Mexico's "Buzz Kill" Music Video

    Pink Mexico's "Buzz Kill" Music Video
    Take a stroll around NYC in Pink Mexico's new video for "Buzz Kill."
  • Kool Keith Interview

    Kool Keith Interview
    Kool Keith don’t give a shit. He’s the death metal of hip-hop. Sam Hitz hit him up for an interview outside of a recent gig.
  • Psycho Las Vegas

    Psycho Las Vegas
    If Vegas in August wasn’t hot enough to melt your brain already, Psycho Las Vegas will surely get the job done. It’s three days of old and new psych, metal, and rock ‘n’ roll, August 26-28.
  • Habitat x Animal Collective

    Habitat x Animal Collective
    Habitat teamed up with the band Animal Collective to release three new boards and a tee shirt. Check it out.
  • Turnstile Interview

    Turnstile Interview
    The tight-knit Turnstile crew took some time to talk before a recent gig in San Francisco. Check it out.
  • Hank Wood and the Hammerheads Interview

    Hank Wood and the Hammerheads Interview
    Cowbells, keyboards and ‘tude. Hank Wood and the Hammerheads took a minute to talk about city living, their music and Internet haters.
  • Sam Vincent Foundation Benefit Show

    Sam Vincent Foundation Benefit Show
    Come out for a night of killer music and support a good cause.
  • Burger Boogaloo 2016 Photos

    Burger Boogaloo 2016 Photos
    Burger Records took over Mosswood park in Oakland, CA, for their annual Boogaloo. The line-up was stacked, the sun was out and good times were had. Check out some photos here.