Built Upon Frustration and Endless aren't the only excellent hardcore metal bands in Pittsburgh. No Retreat are yet another crushing band. They formed in the mid nineties and released their debut, Rise of the Underdog, in 1999. A brief hiatus ensued, guitarist Derek Kovacs joined Built Upon Frustration, but now they're back with their long awaited sophomore release, Pray for Peace. Here is drummer Shaun Below.
Congratulations on a great new album- how do you feel about it ?
Thanks I am just glad it is finally out there and able to get in the kids hands. For various reasons this was a long and drawn out process, but we are all really happy with the final product. I think it gives the fans a good taste of the old No Retreat they have known and yet took us into a new direction at the same time. It is written better than our old stuff and we paid a more attention to detail in the studio.
Tell me a little more about the B.F.L.
The BFL family runs deep and world wide. It is about great friends and having a great time. Some Brothers for Life have nothing to do with the hardcore scene, but most do. We run way deep, and you'll never be sure who all of us are. Loyal to each other, til the bitter end. That's all you need to know.
It appears that you have a very good working relationship with Mushmouth and Krutch- how difficult is it make friends and work with other bands on the scene ?
For No Retreat it isn't difficult to make friends any where. We are the life of the party, we wanna be known, and we wanna know everybody. We get along with everybody for the most part. Mushmouth is now called Out To Win and Krutch are some of our best friends, in fact they are family. We do a lot of shit outside music, birthday parties for the kids, holidays you know the routine. We would be nowhere without those guys, and I am sure they would say the same.
What is it like working with Eric Klinger? Are you a fan of Pro Pain ?
Klinger is one of the hardest working guys in the music scene I have ever met. He is border line genius, and very picky, but he pulls the best out of the people he works with. No Retreat has been friends with him for years. I would say we will never record without him. If you are in a band, and wanna do it right, record with Klinger, he knows music, and is a tireless worker in the studio. We all dig Pro Pain, but if you have ever seen them you know Klinger is the reason kids are still coming out to see them.
Your albums covers deal with war- what are your feelings about the current war the U.S. is waging ?
Props to Klinger again for doing a dope layout. As far as what's going on in the world, I am an American 100% and feel like I owe my life to the soldiers away from home fighting for the beliefs this country was built on. We all have good friends and relatives involved in these situations, and if I may say, we are forever indebted to these people. Thank you. As far as what's going on in Iraq: I am sick and tired of these politically correct people being worried about these people. We warn and warn and warn and then go in and baby these countries and patch them up to keep others happy. Bullshit, we are big brother, and sometimes the little guys deserve a slapping. If we approached the Iraq situation with some balls, we'd be done with it. As far as that Bin Laden muther fucka well we shoulda wiped out that country, totally destroyed it. Than we shoulda built Walmarts, golf courses and McDonalds everywhere. Maybe a Disney World too.
Do you think this type of conflict is justified ?
Guys like you and me can't say whether these conflicts are justified because we just don't have all the facts. As much as I may question it sometimes, I put faith in the system. If they say that's what we gotta do for our country, then I support the decisions, and those who go to resolve these conflicts. If you are asking me if I believe in violence, yes I do. Violence teaches lessons. Think about when you were a little kid, if you got the belt you learned. Sometimes the belt needs to be used.
Like Built Upon Frustration, No Retreat does a great job playing hardcore and metal- not fitting perfectly in one but having elements of both- why do you write in this style? What are some hardcore and some metal bands you enjoy listening to ?
I would rather think that Built Upon Frustration does it like us. Diggums grew as a guitarist with No Retreat and then went back to Built Upon Frustration. They spawned from our style which is playing brutal stuff. Classify brutal into any genre you want, we just wanna play the hardest shit we can. As far as it being hardcore, I have always said hardcore isn't music, it is a life style. The band is always listening to Out To Win, Krutch and Strength For A Reason. Not just because they are our boys but they are the best shit out. I have also been digging the new All Out War, new Hatebreed, and of course the Madball Greatest Hit c.d. is on top of the list.
How is the local scene? Do you have many places you can play ?
No Retreat isn't playing out right now, but we are always at shows. The scene as always is hit or miss with clubs opening and closing every other week. Right now Pittsburgh pretty much blows, but rumor has it, our boy Manny is opening a new venue, so with him behind it, things will no doubt pick up.
Do you think club owners are generally fair or do they take advantage of bands in your area ?
Club owners always take advantage of the little guys, that is how it has always worked, but you need the exposure so that is a price you pay in the scene. I have always been a supporter of DIY shows, that is the heart of the underground.
Any final comments ?
Kids if you like brutal music go get No Retreat. Buy it, steal it, I don't care, we won't see a penny anyway. We are here for you guys, always have been. Remember hardcore isn't what you look like or how many tattoos you have, it is who you are. So if you choose this life, live it, don't be a fucking trendy scenester. Peace- Below.