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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Lou Koller Sick Of It All - Interview
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LOU KOLLER

SICK OF IT ALL


Sick Of It All

Sick Of It All are celebrating 30 years together in 2016 and are as potent and focused than ever. With the Koller brothers leading the charge and their latest album 2014's The Last Act of Defiance bringing exactly what their fans expect. Gang shout outs galore, teeth knocking street anthems, breakdown and break neck pace setting and a directive to their fans to stay hard and fight the power NYHC style! We speak to Lou Koller about the upcoming tour with Refused and how they have managed to survive for 30 years.

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Melisa: So you got the 30th anniversary this year and still going strong so what's the secret?

Lou: [laughs] I don't know man, just not giving a shit I guess [laughs].

Melisa: [laughs] Yeah just say fuck it all to everyone and just keep going strong!

Lou: Pretty much, we don't slow down. When people ask us how much more can you do this I think it kind of gives us the idea that we do this as long as we want. You can't tell us to stop [laughs], we just keep going!

Melisa: Well that's right. My Dad is 67 and he's still playing in a band, still going strong.

Lou: Awesome!

Melisa: Yeah you can't tell anyone who has music in their blood to slow down at all [laughs].

Lou: [laughs].

Melisa: So you're celebrating the 30th anniversary with a tour with Refused, how did that come up?

Lou: Oh we've known those guys for years even before they were a band. They would come see us play in Sweden and we met them and just talked to them and they asked us, 'Hey would you guys play our town in Sweden?', and I don't remember the name of it but then the next year our booking agent said there's these kids who are setting up a show in whatever town it was and 'Do you want to do it?' And we said yes and it was the guys in Refused and we just formed a friendship since then and it was great to see them develop, start as a young band and form their own sound and then take off and write that amazing record "Shape Of Punk To Come". And then they broke up and we were like, 'Man that sucks!', and then a year later everybody loved that record so I'm glad they came back and wrote another great record.

Melisa: Oh absolutely. I sometimes find when a band takes a hiatus or a breather they come back with something absolutely fantastic.

Lou: Yeah it's true.

Melisa: So what can we expect to see from this tour?

Lou: Well first when we heard we were going out with Refused, our good friends and that they're a great live act and they kinda say that sometimes we've had a bit of an influence on them in that department, so we're like, 'Oh we really gotta step up our game'. It's going to be us and Refused so we gotta do what Sick Of It All does but we can't slack. And then I never heard High Tension before so I looked at them online and I was like, 'Oh man these guys, they look like a really good act, they sound heavy, I like the songs I heard'. So we're going to have to be really on top of our game so I think what the audience is going to get is a night of each band pushing the next band making them play harder so it's going to be a great night.

Melisa: Oh awesome, it sounds like it's going to be a very hardcore, excellent night.

Lou: [laughs] I hope so!




Melisa: Will you be playing from your entire catalogue or will you be focusing more on the newer songs that you've produced?

Lou: We've always managed no matter if it's a half hour or an hour set or a 40 minute or whatever, we manage to touch at least...some of our earlier songs we have to play like from the very first album so we always have those in the set. We never really say, 'OK when we go on this tour we're playing to new kids so let's play more of the new stuff', because we like them to see the whole evolution of Sick Of It All I guess. But it's all live and so intense anyway that they all kind of fit together very well. On record though we didn't know what we were doing way back then like the production or whatever, I think the early records sound like crap but that's just my opinion [laughs].

Melisa: [laughs] Oh no! I was just listening to some the other day and I was going, 'It's still just as good as when it came out in 1989.'

Lou: Oh thank you! We just did a trio of shows and it was the final leg of the anniversary shows, it was the closing for New York City. We had a big party in July at a huge venue here and it was a big, big show so we wanted to do something for our fans who have stuck with us. We played 3 shows in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn in tiny little clubs and we just played the first 3 records and it was a lot of fun visiting those records again becaue now we've been discussing in the last week of like, 'Hey some of those songs are really great, we should bring them back into the set'. So we're going to kick out some other ones and put some in so should be a good set.

Melisa: Yeah I noticed those shows were sold out as well.

Lou: Yeah that was fun because we always joke around. Like when we had the big show in July, it's not that huge of a club, I think it holds 1700 and we were like, 'If we can't sell this out in New York City, we gotta call it quits'. Because this is our hometown and luckily that sold out! And then we put these on sale and I think the club capacity on the first night in Brooklyn was 200, the Manhattan one was 150 and the Queens one was another 300 and they sold out in 15 minutes so we were very happy. And it was great because we told all our friends and said, 'When they go on sale you gotta get it, this is first come first serve. We're not holding tickets for anybody'. So it was really exciting for that to happen and it was great as we saw so many old fans and one of the best things was when we were in Queens I met two kids who were barely 20 years old and they were like, 'We couldn't wait to see you guys', and we were like, 'You know we're only playing old shit tonight'. And they were like, 'We love everything', and that's something that every band wants to hear. It's fine that people love certain records but when you play a show and they're like, 'You didn't play enough old stuff', or 'You didn't play enough new stuff', it kinda gets to you!

Melisa: Yeah I can imagine! Because you're like, 'Hang on, I've worked so hard on this newer stuff, I want you to listen to that as well'.

Lou: Yeah but as a fan I understand it too, sometimes it takes me a good 3 or 4 listens to an album to get into it of a band I like. Take Motorhead for example, I've been loving them since day one. Our drummer Armand (Majidi) and I, that's how we met. We were the only kids in high school, my brother Pete (Koller) who plays guitar and Armand, we met in high school because we were the only two who ever heard of Motorhead back then and I kinda slept on the middle era of Motorhead except for that great album "1916" I think it is and it took me months and months before I sat down and listened to it and I was like, 'What was wrong with me? This thing is fucking awesome!' And the last few they put out "The World Is Yours", "Aftershock" and even "Bad Magic", great records so I learned my lesson. I have to sit down and don't expect the same feeling that you're going to have when you first hear a band but it should touch on that and take you somewhere else and I think that's what people have to do when you've been with a band that long. I mean I know friends of mine who are Iron Maiden fans for life and I kinda lost touch with Iron Maiden years ago but I still love their early shit.

Melisa: Yeah and their live shows are still amazing though.

Lou: Yeah how he can sing and jump around like that I have no idea. I'm just screaming my head off like a maniac and I can't even jump around and do it at the same time much.




Melisa: [laughs] So you guys have been around since 1986, celebrating your 30 years this year, how do you think the punk scene has changed from the 80's?

Lou: It's weird, it got how in the 70's when punk came out there was a big explosion and a lot of bands had huge commercial hits and then they went back underground and now I think people take things from the punk and hardcore scene and they commercialise it or make it nice and slick and they become commercially successful. It's funny seeing some of the bands that are big and you're like, 'Well why would kids like that and not like...', and you name some not obscure but an underground band and you're like, 'Why wouldn't they like the real thing?' I've seen it a million times but that's the mainstream media, they fall in love with something and then they get rid of it and they're onto the next thing.

Melisa: Yeah I think it's bands that are just picking here and there from the punk scene and bringing it into their genre of music really.

Lou: Yeah and I can't make a blanket statement like I have friends who say it's not political enough anymore or some who say it's too political. You can't make a blanket statement like that, it's the bands. Some bands are really into the political side of things, others are more into writing about their inner feelings or the girl at the hotdog stand who broke his heart, I don't know! I like them all but like I was saying I was into the last Good Riddance record because I think that they write such amazing lyrics, they're so well though [out] and that's a band that rides the cusp. They write these such intelligent lyrics and then 3 songs in he's got a sappy love song that's so catchy that you're like, 'Wow why aren't these guys huge?'.

Melisa: Well I'm looking forward to the tour when it's coming around in January next year, absolutely I can't wait!

Lou: I think it's going to be mental, it's going to be exciting.

Melisa: Thank you very much for talking to The Rockpit today Lou and we will see you in Australia soon!

Lou: Thank you!


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REFUSED AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2016:
w/ Sick Of It All & High Tension

Friday, January 20: Tivoli, Brisbane
Saturday, January 21: Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Sunday, January 22: HQ, Adelaide
Sunday, January 24: Prince Bandroom, Melbourne
Sunday, January 25: Prince Bandroom, Melbourne
Sunday, January 26: Metropolis, Fremantle

Tickets and tour details can be found at Destroy All Lines.


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Interview by Melisa Coleman on December 20th 2016