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 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?
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.
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.
6/06/2020Hacksaw's music is not here for your enjoyment. It exists to pummel you into submission. We caught up with these heavy noise makers, but we were particularly curious about guitarist/skater Mike Hell's perspective and ethics of eating garbage straight from the can.
6/06/2020Musical act Cobra Man was conceived from the fire of skate videos but it has now grown into its own groovy, dance-music monster. The band's DNA is shared with the skate pscyhos over at Worble and their tunes are hot and heavy throughout the new vid Party Destroyer.
6/06/2020Blending genres of different musical eras, Sophie Allison AKA "Soccer Mommy" has crafted her own unique sound. She's a true songwriter and Atiba Jefferson had the honor of directing her latest video which, of course, involves skating.
6/06/2020Selling 85 million albums worldwide is quite an accomplishment. But Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament has another epic legacy. He has been pivotal in getting skateparks built in underserved rural areas including many Native American reservations. Here he talks about his roots in music and skating.
6/06/2020If you’re near the Netherlands this month, make sure you get over to Skatepark Noord’s Grind and Slam event for a damn good time skating and circle-pitting to Vitamin X and Kaak. Check the crucial details on the flyer and learn the 24-hour clock while you’re at it.
6/06/2020As many of you know, on March 6th the City of Austin issued a disaster declaration, cancelling SXSW in light of concerns relating to the COVID-19 virus. As a result, the Death Match on March 19-21 has been cancelled.
6/06/2020The mysterious performer Orville Peck has managed to draw a dedicated following ranging from country fans, punks, pop enthusiasts and everyone in between. Writing from the heart and keeping showmanship a priority has proven to be a successful combination. We were stoked to hear he's down with the mag.
6/06/2020A floating punk-rock festival adrift in the high seas? Walk the plank! Flogging Molly has hosted this epic cruise several times and this year they added skating to the mix. This feature includes interviews with Steve Caballero, Matt Hensley, Pennywise, Stiff Little Fingers, and Pegboy.
6/06/2020Beatrice strikes through the car-lit streets of NYC in this FourAM music video directed by Giovanni Reda.
6/06/2020Last weekend Andy Gill of Gang of Four passed away at the age of 64. We were lucky enough to interview him recently to talk about music. Check out this interview from the May 2019 issue.