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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Interview: Brian Robinson and Nick Angelini of A Wilhelm Scream

Nick - far left
Brian - second from left
Sanctuary Review recently sat down with Brian Robinson Nick Angelini of A Wilhelm Scream before their show at The Waiting Room in Omaha, Nebraska to talk about Riot Fest, playing Ruiner in its entirety, their new album, Rush, Chinese Democracy, Fest, and Sebastian Bach.


Sanctuary Review: Can you introduce yourself and say what you do in the band?

Brian Robinson: Hi, I'm Brian from A Wilhelm Scream. I play bass guitar and I sing backing vocals the best I can. Yes.

SR: You just played Riot Fest in Chicago this past weekend. How did that go?

Brian: It was a lot of fun. We were looking forward to it since we started the tour and we were a little bit scared. We were sandwiched between, uh, we had overlapping sets with The Gaslight Anthem and Slapstick so I was really, really stoked when I was looking down at the crowd when we were playing there were a lot of kids covered in Gwar's blood so I kind of like that we're the band of choice for Gwar fans between the three bands that were playing at the same time. Covered in blood. It was great. 

SR: Were you a bit star struck at all with the big names that were on that festival?

Brian: We shared a bus with Rise Against in Europe so we know those guys and I met Joe from Rise Against when I was sixteen years old and he was in 88 Fingers Louie. We only get star struck around Less Than Jake. Mainly around Buddy. He can't hear me right now so I can keep talking about him and looking at him. Anyway, not really star struck. We were really excited to see some of the bands that played. It's always, always, great to watch Dropkick Murpheys play. They're one of the best live bands I've ever seen. It was also cool to see Off With Their Heads. We met them on the last European tour. We did a few shows with them and Boy Sets Fire over there. We were more stoked for the friends that we all saw, like the guys from Lawrence Arms were there, ya know, just our buddies. That's the best part about touring in general.

Nicholas Angelini: And the money!

Brian: And the money! Oh, the sweet sweet money. The flow of skrilla. Uhm, no, that doesn't happen. But yeah, meeting up with friends essentially.

SR: Your show earlier this week in Joliet, Illinois seemed to be cancelled out of nowhere.

Brian: The morning of!

SR: What happened with that?

Brian: That's a fantastic question. I would love the answer to that. That happened and luckily we have some great friends in Chicago, friends that we were staying with, promoters in the area, Toby from Red Scare. Actually the day before, Toby works at Wrigley Field, and we went to a Cubs game, and he got  our name put up on the little sign, "...welcomes A Wilhelm Scream." But the next day, we scrambled to find a last minute show. We found it with three hours notice and we managed to pull out like a hundred kids, and it was one of my favorite shows of the tour so far. It's cool that social networking has progressed that far that ya know, "We're playing here! Do you wanna come? Let's all get together."

SR: Yeah, exactly. One person tweets, then it gets retweeted, and it gets out there.

Brian: It's insane how that happens; that can happen.

SR: It was announced a few days ago that you're going to be playing Ruiner in its entirety in November. Did the reception to playing Mute Print last year factor into that decision?

Brian: I think so. I'm looking forward to it because I was a big fan of the band before I joined and like, even when they were Smackin' Isaiah, my old band would tour with them here and then when they came up into Ontario and when Ruiner came out me and my buddies were like "oh crap this is an incredible album." I'm really stoked that I'm going to be able to play it from beginning to end.

SR: Are there more plans to do shows like that? Maybe even a small run of shows for the album?

Brian: There haven't been any plans. It just seems to pop up when we're either taking a second show or it's the last show of the year essentially and we want to do something special.

SR: Just like a holiday show of sorts.

Brian: Yeah, it's the sixteenth of November and that's our last show of the year because Nuno is going to have a baby. I am trying to finally move into a place with my girlfriend in Montreal. We're all so busy.  So that's the last show and we'll wait until Nuno is cool to tour next year, but we won't be doing too many tours anymore. It just doesn't make sense.

SR: You've not-so-recently made the move to Paper+Plastick. How's it been working with Vinnie as opposed to other labels you've been apart of?

Brian: Vinnie is very good at advertising, and he's stoked on not just putting out he music, but making sure the packing is worthwhile for a kid to have. Trying to make the actual product be something that looks really cool and [people say] "Wow! I'm glad I bought this as opposed to just downloading it." Of course, we have to do the digital download. That's just part of it. But he's really hell bent on making sure that people want to buy actual records and CD's and vinyl.

SR: It's been awhile since we've heard new music out of you guys. You did the self-titled EP in 2009 and it's been five years since the last full length. You've been playing new songs live and mixes from the album have made their way back to you. Is there any sort of update as to the completion of the record and the eventual release?

Brian: We've been talking back and forth with No Idea [Records]. It's going to come out on No Idea, and we can only give a vague answer because we don't wanna disappoint anybody with a specific date. If we set a date, we know it's not gonna come out on that date. We're just saying spring next year. Then we'll be touring off of that when it comes out. It works out perfectly like I said. We've got real life stuff to be working on.

SR: So it's not going to be like Chinese Democray where it's like sixteen years in the making?

Brian: It kind of is our Chinese Democracy, admittingly.

SR: Yeah, it's like the Chinese Democracy of punk rock.

Brian: Yeah, I hope it's not as bad or people don't see it as bad as Chinese Democracy. I think I listened to that CD once. It's not enjoyable by any means.

SR: I liked it a lot when it first came out because that's the kind of music I was into at the time, and then I played it a few weeks ago and I was like, "Uh..."

Brian: Yeah, "This is not good! There are so many better bands than Guns N' Roses!"

SR: "I can name a hundred!"

Brian: Yes exactly.

SR: What kind of insight can you give as to the songwriting and recording of the album? 

Brian: It's still fast and there are riffs all over the place, but I think the real progression is like, the one thing I can catch from the album is the chorus and the lyric hooks, like there's more things that will stick in your head.

SR: So it's more of a melodic album?

Brian: Yeah, I think so. It's more melodic than Career Suicide, but we're still a bunch of idiots, like real big nerds, when it comes to playing music so we have to fit our million notes in here and there, but I think it's the most sing-alongish CD that we have.

SR: You guys are producing this album by yourself this time around like the EP. How has that been different?

Brian: We renovated a studio. We tore apart Trevor's [Reilly, guitar/vocals] basement. We ran around with hammers and tore everything down. The whole studio used to be in the basement, but now we hollowed out the whole basement. That's like the recording room, and the control room is two flights about it. So like, we have to talk back and forth, but we're two levels above. It's at Trevor's parents house too. We ripped apart his parents house essentially. We want it to be as close to The Blasting Room as possible. I think it came out really well, and Bill Stevensen mixing and mastering it and he was impressed with the original mixes that we sent him and that's a good sign. We've gotten one track back and it sounds amazing.

SR: Do we get to hear it?

Brian: Not tonight! (laughs) When everything comes back, I'm sure we'll be putting something up on the internet as a teaser for the rest of the album. That's up to management.

SR: Are there any new influences that have made their way onto this album?

Brian: We always draw influence from each of the member's spots. I'll be sitting down trying to write a bass line and I'll go back and listen to a few Rush records or whatever.

SR: That's a good starting point right there. 

Brian: It is for me that's for damn sure. And Nick, [drummer] you love Rush; it's your favorite band right?

Nick: Yeeeeeeah. (collective laughter)

Brian: But yeah, we all draw our influences from way different things, and it always comes back in to what we're play and I can't think of anything specific other than Rush for me, and Descendents and anything nerdy.

SR: Have Geddy Lee sing Descendents songs.

Brian: That would be a nightmare I think.

SR: It would be like that Lou Reed and Metallica album.

Brian: Exactly! I heard maybe thirty seconds of it and I turned it off, because it was terrible.

SR: I actually got paid to listen to the whole album.

Brian: Really? I hope you got paid a lot. 

SR: It was like five dollars.

Brian: I'd do that too. (laughs)

SR: I have two bucks I can give you to listen to Chinese Democracy

Brian: Interesting. We'll talk after the interview.

SR: We can do it after the show or something, not like I have it on my phone or anything. I'd have to Spotify it.

Brian: I think you're lying! I think you're a liar. I'm kidding. I'm joking. (laughs)

SR: (laugh) So what bands are you into right now then?

Brian: Uhm, I don't know. We did a weekend with this band on Red Scare called A Holy Mess and actually, when we were in Florida, we played with the band The Propellor Dream, which were great. Chad [Riley, live crew for Less Than Jake, bassist for The Propellor Dream] is in the band but now that he left, they're absolutely terrible. (laughs) No, but they're a great band. The Holy Mess off of Red Scare are great. Off With Their Heads are great. There's a band from Montreal that's sorta like in the vein of Every Time I Die. I listened to their new CD and it's unbelievable.

SR: Is it better than Ex Lives?

Brian: (thinks for a second) No. Ex Lives is really good. It's a really good CD. We had the pleasure of seeing Every Time I Die at the Reading & Leeds Festival and oh my God, it was the most chaotic thing I've ever seen in my entire life.

SR: Yeah I saw them on Warped Tour and they were the first band to play on the first stage when you walked in so every just kind of stopped and watched. I saw all the All Time Low fans waiting to see them play and they're like *makes the face of someone who's in shock* "What is this? Why are they screaming?"

Brian: They were probably concerned with everyone losing their shit in front of them.

SR: It's like, "This doesn't happen at All Time Low concerts!"

Brian: No, no. Yeah, that's always funny to watch, especially when you're up on stage and there's people staking up their spots for whatever band, and then there's the band's fans directly behind them just going crazy. It happens to us a lot actually.

SR: I had to watch Pierce The Veil before Taking Back Sunday on Warped and everyone was going crazy while I was just standing there. 

Brian: "Alright, let's get this over and done with."

SR: Yeah, and once that was over, all the Taking Back Sunday fans came up and that was worth the forty minute wait. 

Brian: I would say so. I would agree with you.

SR: I didn't get paid for it, but it was the Milwaukee date when they had all the guest vocalists. They had Dan from Four Year Strong, Keith Buckley, and Geoff Rickley was there too. He did "Cute Without The 'E'" and "MakeDamnSure" and I was like, "Okay, gonna go cry now." (collective laughter) That's pretty much what happened. There might've been a tear or two. Ya know, it's right after Thursday broke up and getting to actually see him live was like yeah.

Brian: It was emotional for you.

SR: Yeah, just seeing someone from one of my favorite bands performing with another was pretty great. Afterwards I was like, "Alright, time to drive back to Omaha." (collective laughter)

Brian: Fantastic. (laughs)

SR: Nuno said in an early interview that you've been battling remastering the old stuff. Is that still in the works?

Brian: Ya know, we get asked that a lot and my general answer is, "I don't know." I don't know. It's always talked about, but we've been so busy with the new album that it's been on the back burner, and it might always be on the back burner.

Nick: I started making an insert for that a long time ago and the computer I had is now gone and dead. All the work that I put into that computer, which is now paperweight, is gone. So that happened. So we stil don't know.

Brian: So the short answer is, "We don't know." (laughs) Maybe after the new record comes out we'll have more insight on that.

SR: What are your tour plans for the rest of the year?

Brian: We're going to play Fest in Gainesville. We're stoked about that. I heard Sam from Junior Battles say it and it's like the best weekend of the year. If you're not friends with somebody, you're probably going to make friends with them if you end up in conversation with them. We always have the best time. We always get passionately drunk there. We're looking forward to that. The only thing we have after that is three festivals in South America. Each of them are two day festivals so we're playing one day and there's the other half the next day. The lineup is ridiculous. I think it's Rise Against, Pennywise, Strike Anywhere, Streetlight Manifesto, us, and then local bands. Between that whole list of bands, it's split between two days. It's in Brazil, Argentina, and Peru.

SR: That's going to be crazy.

Brian: It's going to be insane.

SR: The South American fans love music.

Brian: The love everything. They just love music. They're the most insane music fans on the planet.

SR: I thinks that's what's different between American fans and South American fans; they appreciate it a lot more. 

Brian: I was gonna say the same thing. They appreciate it more. They appreciate the fact that the band has flown so far to go and play in front of them. We've been down to South America a couple of times now, and it's insane. It's absolutely insane and I'm looking forward to it. We've toured with all of those bands before. Actually Glassjaw is playing too and that's the only band we've never toured with. I can't wait to see Strike Anywhere in Brazil, or see what Pennywise does offstage in Brazil, because they are crazy.

SR: Are there bands that you hope to tour with?

Brian: I would love to tour with Propaghandi because they're the best punk band on the planet. They're insanely amazing. Maybe this band The Propellor Dream from Florida. Like bands that we haven't toured with yet?

SR: Yeah, and defunct bands you could bring back.

Brian: I'd love to tour with Thin Lizzy. That'd be awesome, but their singer is really dead. *looks at Nick* Who else would we tour with?

Nick: Quicksand.

Brian: Nick says Quicksand. I'm trying to think. That's a loaded question. There are so many bands. We could tour with Johann Sebastian Bach. (collective laughter)

SR: That'd be a nice mixed tour. 

Brian: That'd be a weird line up but he's also very dead, so we can't do that. I'd like to tour with Sebastian Bach!

SR: There ya go!

Brian: Yeah there we go! Almost as good! Do a full tour opening for Sebastian Bach.

SR: Alright, so anything else that you wanna say?

Brian: Nick makes snare drums and his company is called Wail City. Shameless plug! Wail City. Wail City. Wail City. Alright, that's good.

SR: Well, thank you very much!

Brian: Yeah no problem! Thanks for having me.



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