Pop[ular] Punk

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library - Central Library

Pop[ular] Punk

featuring Still Rings True

"Our crisis is a crisis of choice." These are the words of melodic punk rockers, Still Rings True. For these three guys from Watertown, N.Y., music is not just a hobby; it's a means to spark social reform. If you find yourself suffering from bone-crushing apathy and spending your days in a lackluster haze, then Still Rings True is the right medicine for you. Just one listen and you're guaranteed to be hooked on their catchy tunes and close-to-home mission to bring meaning back to music.

I had the opportunity to talk to these guys about the meaning behind their music, how their music has changed, and how music has changed them. Read on to get the low-down from one of the East Coast's best do-it-yourself bands.

Still Rings TrueI first heard your Still Rings True EP on iTunes and I fell in love with it right away. As three guys from New York, is it ever weird to know some kid you’ve never met is listening to your stuff?

Nah, not at all. It's an amazing feeling, and it gets wild at times, but I wouldn't call it 'weird.' I'd call it the point.

Your band’s tag line is “Music is a weapon” and one of your EP’s is titled Anger is a Gift. Your full-length album, Tear Down these Walls, is all about social and political reform – no love or Emo songs here. Why did your lyrics take that direction? Was it an organic occurrence or a deliberate decision to stay away from love-inspired ballads?

If you're a band or an artist, and people are spending their money to watch you do your thing, we feel that there's a responsibility to offer something meaningful in exchange. Nothing is more important than facing the reality of our situation in this country and in the world right now, so that's what drives us to say what we say and do what we do.

It's really the whole point behind the band. Use music as a vehicle to create change in our communities and the people we come in contact with.

Pop punk gets a lot of heat and your "Music is a weapon" tagline reminds me of Man Overboard’s "Defend Pop Punk” tag line. Why do you think there is a need to defend the Pop Punk genre? Is it just not “manly” enough?

Anger is a Gift album coverOK, here's the truth: We are NOT a 'pop-punk' band. We just don't feel like that scene really has much to offer anymore, and it's almost become a kind of joke... super over-saturated, very little heart... the list could go on and on. So no, we don't want to 'defend pop punk' or anything else for that matter.

In all reality, we're doing everything we can to distance ourselves from that whole scene. We care a lot more than that. This is a lifestyle and a commitment, not an excuse to wear tank tops on the weekends and be cool. I came up listening to bands like NOFX and Lagwagon, [stuff] like that. That's 'pop punk' to me: punk rock with some melody to it.

What these kids are doing these days has absolutely NOTHING to do with what drew us to music. Literally nothing.

Speaking of, I saw on YouTube where you guys covered blink-182’s “Josie” while on tour in Germany. That’s a change of pace from your usual lyrical content. Why’d you choose that one?

Just because we choose to put out a message with our personal songwriting doesn't mean we don't listen to everything else, because we do. Blink came up back when that style of music was still raw and bad ass. We love 'Josie.' Play it every chance we get.

You recently toured all over Europe. I saw on Facebook and Twitter you were outraged at the Belgian Post for taking an eternity to mail your merch. What happened?

Still Rings True demoing new music in their practice spaceWe mailed our merch over before we left, and it never got to where it was supposed to go. Long story short, we're still waiting on it. It's just now finally on its way home.

I’ve noticed you’re constantly promoting other bands on your Facebook, like This Is Hell, Comeback Kid, Living with Lions, and Rust Belt Lights (who I saw recently), which is not the typical narcissistic route that most bands take on social networks. I also saw your post on Twitter: “Nah, its cool...we won't beg people to like our page. We'll just worry about playing music.” Is it safe to say you’re not trying to be famous?

Too many bands in this 'scene' are in it for ALL the wrong reasons. People can call this way of thinking 'elitist' or anything else they want.

Point is, you just said it yourself in this question: we promote bands that we care about, that are our friends. We don't ride the nuts of every 'bigger' band we meet in an attempt to name drop or look cool. We don't lie to people. All we expect in return is the same.

We've made some pretty strong ties with a lot of amazing bands, and they're based on mutual respect and honesty. That's what this community is all about: unity.

"Tear Down These Walls" album coverYou’ll be touring with Pastime later this summer. Tell us about those guys. Have you toured with them before?

Nah, and honestly I don't know much about them. Our dude Jake just asked us if we'd wanna take them out, we checked out their stuff and said yeah. They got their own sound going on. We're looking forward to it. Should be a lot of fun.

The best show you ever played: where was it and who were you guys with?

It's a three-way tie, all 3 shows in Syracuse, N.Y.: we played with Street Dogs, who are a straight institution. We also played with Bane at the Lost last year that was dope as hell. And we did a Bayside show in Syracuse a couple years back that was a lot of fun too. All amazing bands.

Still Rings True European Tour 2012True or false? Zombie apocalypse: It could happen.

Nah dude.

Any out-there side projects going on?

Nah. We write fast melodic punk rock and always have. We jumped off that ship a long time ago, after our VERY first five song EP came out, and that [stuff is] straight ghost now. WE DON'T WANT TO BE A PART OF THAT SCENE. Please let us out!!!

What’s the most played song on your iPod right now? Or record player if you’re cool like that.

Big time obsessed with I Am The Avalanche's new record. Straight repeat 24/7. Eagerly awaiting Propagandhi's new one too.

Still Rings True EPAny avid readers in the group? What are you reading right now?

I read constantly, just got done reading Daniel Quinn's Ishmael for the tenth time. That book will change your life...

Any of you have kids? Do you think your kids will listen to Pop Punk?

I have a six-year-old son, and I hope not. Ha ha, nah once again: we LOVE pop punk. What it was before anyways. We just recognize the label for what it is, and are trying to stay out of that cage.

If you mean will my kid listen to [omitted] whiny weekend warrior bands? NOPE. Will he know Saves The Day and NOFX? Yup. He already does.

Still Rings True PromoDo you guys think you’ll ever relocate to the West Coast?

Nah, [forget] the West Coast. We like it over here.

You’ve toured with Handguns before. You gonna pick up their new record?

Of course, they're our dudes. Well, I'll at least download it, haha.

*All answers by Josh Snyder, vocalist.

Support local music. Support your local library.

Follow Still Rings True on Twitter: @stillringstrue
Find Still Rings True on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/stillringstrue
Listen to Still Rings True on BandCamp: http://www.stillringstrue.bandcamp.com/

Check out Part One of the Pop[ular] Punk series featuring Cowabunga! here.
-A. Quarles