Despite spending the whole day throwing-up from a dodgy kebab, Pat Flynn, vocalist of, easily, one of the biggest and best bands in hardcore, Have Heart, kindly took the time out (88-minutes, to be exact) to chat to me ahead of their recent Leeds show during their final ever run of the UK.
You’ll probably need a kebab (preferably, cooked) or something to get you through this lengthy interview, as we talked about an array of topics, including: the band’s imminent break up, their current world tour, straight edge, and the many issues in the hardcore scene plaguing the lead man’s mind, as well as a whole lot more.
Faye: You’re currently in the middle of a world tour, after which, Have Heart will be calling it a day, so why are you breaking up?
Pat: It’s just that we’ve done everything we can do, we didn’t really expect it to go much further than beyond writing a demo or a 7”. Our deal was that we’d always just work hard, we put everything we had into the band and we didn’t really intend on doing as much as we did. The opportunity always presented itself to us, I think that was because of our hard work, so we figured that we might as well keep working at it. We did everything we felt there was to accomplish and then we got back from a tour and kind of just got talking, and all five of us were on the same page, in terms of accomplishing everything we wanted to do and just how we felt in terms of touring, so we decided that now would be the best time to break-up. Parts of us felt that maybe we could keep doing it, but we felt there wasn’t going to be another time where everyone is on the same page of wanting to break up. It was kind of one of those do or die moments because we always thought we were going to break up relatively quick and then we’d have another one of those moments where we’d be like, “All right, let’s do it, let’s write another record.”, but then we had a moment where we didn’t want to do it any more and if we were to keep going, then we’d possibly end up having member changes and we don’t really want to do that, it’s the five of us. It was a pretty important thinking process. We actually have a new member of the band, a sixth member, because Kei (guitarist) couldn’t do the touring schedule, it wasn’t in him, he couldn’t get himself around to doing it, we completely burned ourselves out, totally. So, our friend, Austin, from Virginia, has been on tour with us, he’s a really good guitar player. We always knew we had a 7” left in us, so we’re finishing writing a 7” and we’re writing with Austin. So, it’s funny, we decided we’re going to break up as that line-up with Kei, but we also decided to write another 7”, but there was no time to write it with Kei, so we had Austin join the band, so technically we have six members. Austin’s just as much part of the band as anyone else.
F: You said you got back from a tour when you got talking about breaking up, when exactly was this?
P: We’ve been talking about it since about March or April, I think. At the end of February, we did an east coast tour with Trapped Under Ice and Polar Bear Club, that was like a week-long, then at the end of that we did a west coast thing with Shook Ones, Comadre and Rotting Out, and before those two tours we were like, “Why don’t we see how we feel at the end of these?” and take it from there and decide. We had already been planning this whole summer thing for a while and then we decided we kind of don’t want to do the touring, it’s kind of just lost its charm to us. It’s hard, it takes a lot of things away from us. So, I think it was around March or April when we decided that touring wasn’t really for us any more. We kind of felt weird, we played a few of shows on this tour, and no one really knew our intentions, since we decided at the beginning of the world tour to announce it. It’s kind of unfortunate that we played China and the Philippines without telling anyone and we knew, they were like, “See you next time!”, I felt bad.
F: Have there not been any moments during this tour where you’ve thought, “Oh, no! I don’t want to break up”?
P: No, it’s not like I want this to end right away, but that was the great thing about what we’ve done is that we’ve always given it 100% and completely gave ourselves away to this band, it’s brought us to a point where the decision to break up was pretty clear and there’s no real element of confusion, it just makes it a lot easier. It was more than just a little band to us, we were all really, really young, I was 16 when we started and I’m 24 now, there’s a lot of change that goes on in one’s life between those years, especially with relationships and school, a lot of things change, you go from early adolescence to the end of adolescence. We experienced a lot with each other and that’s why it was important to break up at this time, it’s appropriate and just right. I really just think we can’t do this any longer.
F: Have there been any stand out moments during the tour so far?
P: Yeah, I was going to get a kebab in Australia one night, I think we were in Sydney, I was with the drummer, bassist and our friend, Dani, she helps out with the tour. We turned around and there were people arguing, two groups of four people, like eight people about to fight and someone got thrown into me, and I pushed him off, but he thought I was involved, so I was the first person to get beat up. It turned into me fighting this one kid for like two seconds and I was like, “How the fuck did this happen?!” It was just a quick thing, I was really, really hurting this person, which I felt bad about, but this person punched me and I had to defend myself. I thought it was just between me and him, and I had my friends there, but I noticed there were club-goers and street kids, and I noticed I wasn’t fighting a club-goer, I was actually fighting these street kids too. The next thing I knew, I was thrown between these two parked cars in the street and the kids were punching me in the head and kicking me and stuff like that, I remember I had my head next to a curb and someone goes, “Curb that cunt!” and I was like, “What the fuck is going on?!” My friends were pulling these people off me, but they weren’t attacking my friends, they just went back to me, I was thrown into a street, this taxi cab almost hit me. No one could do anything, it was just the eight people fighting, I was like, “I’ve got to get the fuck out of here.”, so I just fucking ran to the kebab place. I had to go to the hospital, I got taken away in an ambulance because, apparently, I was borderline unconscious and I just got a bill sent to my house for 600-fucking-Australian dollars, that’s like $500, it sucks, just for a fucking ambulance ride. So, that’s a stand out thing. There were shows in China and Indonesia where we had an unbelievable connection with the crowd.
F: What happened with the planned shows in Zimbabwe and Botswana in Africa?
P: The guy setting it up for us said that the tension in Zimbabwe right now is really bad and it’s kind of like walking into a bar and there’s a tension, like a fight is about to break out. He said the streets are really quiet and everyone’s really tense, so he said it’s best that we just stick to South Africa. It’s unfortunate, but I think South Africa is a pretty big achievement in itself, so we’re happy with that, but it still sucks.
F: Do you know if there’s a hardcore scene over there in Africa?
P: That’s was the thing, like in China, there’s no hardcore scene whatsoever, there’s sort of a formation of punk, but there’s nothing really. It was kind of cool to go there and the kids were excited, it’s kind of interesting to see what the states would have been like before hardcore existed, seeing bands that were untouched by the pre-set ideas of hardcore, seeing them play loud and crazy music, like Bad Brains’ approach to music, really fast. So, it was cool to see that, especially in China.
F: When you wrote Songs To Scream At The Sun, did you know it was going to be Have Heart’s last full-length?
P: With Have Heart, even with the demo, we’ve always approached what we wrote as if it was going to be the last and even with The Things We Carry, we thought we were only going to write one LP and put it all in there. We always treat Songs To Scream At The Sun like it might be our last, so there was a hint of that, but I wasn’t writing lyrics based on the end of the band or anything like that. Whereas, with this record that we’re writing now, the four or five songs, it’s relatively ‘last song content’, stuff that’s going on in my life right now and that’s the thing, I’ve always wrote about things that are going on in my life.
F: What about your side-project, Wolf Whistle, are you going to continue with that?
P: Wolf Whistle will never really tour, well, we might do a small east coast thing or something like that, but I doubt we’ll ever fly anywhere. The guitarist is a fisherman, the drummer has a full-time job, and I’m going to be incredibly busy, I think touring, in general, is not really for me. I mean, I really liked it, but it can really weigh heavily. I’m not really a homebody, I grew up travelling around and stuff, but in terms with my relationship with the hardcore scene, it makes it hard to enjoy current hardcore, because you’re on the front line and you hear single thing that goes one and you’re just like, “Ugh, God, it sucks.” Everyone’s lying, everyone’s faking it. I like the ignorance I had when I was younger and didn’t know certain things, so I kind of want to get back into that.
But me and the singer of The First Step and the new guitarist of Have Heart, Austin, we’re talking about starting a band that would be more traditional, Youth of Today-style stuff, but me and the singer of Shipwreck and the new guitarist of Have Heart, we are starting a new band called Dry, that’s kind of an anything goes type of band, I guess kind of like where Have Heart would have left off, so we’ll see when that comes into fruition, but it won’t be for a while. I’ve got to spend a while cleansing my life back together.
If I did do touring again, it wouldn’t be a crazy full-time thing like Have Heart for the past three years, which was like touring from May to January and then sporadically from January to May – oh, God, it’s just so tiring. The shitty part about all that is that you still get excited about your songs and whatnot, but it’s like, say if you stare at a painting for hours and hours, like something beautiful for literally 7-hours straight, it begins to lose its feeling, it’s sad. It’s not that it does that to me on tour, but it gets harder to keep it fresh and, obviously, that’s just natural. It takes a lot, you’ve got to gear yourself mentally in the zone, you can’t just get up on stage and have a good time. I’ve got to walk around the venue and get the feel for the vibe of it, I’ve got to really put myself in the zone. That might not seem much, but when you spend 8-hours straight in a van, it’s such a routine and you get here, then you’re just so fucking tired since you didn’t sleep that well, it can really wear on the soul, especially on something you really love and, for me, I love our music and I love our connection with the crowd, so if there’s a night where I don’t really feel it and I don’t connect with the crowd that much, I take it pretty hard on myself. I don’t think I could do the whole full-time touring thing. If I were to tour again, it would probably be a weekend here and there and a summer tour, then a winter tour and they wouldn’t be longer than two-weeks.
F: You’re becoming a teacher after all of this, aren’t you?
P: Yeah, that’s the plan. I have my bachelors degree in History. In Massachusetts, you can either decide to teach and go to school at the same time, to get your masters, but I decided that I can’t do that transition of a lifestyle that goes like 200 miles per hour to stopping and hitting a wall, like teaching and going to school, I couldn’t handle that transition. I’m in no rush, I’ve accomplished a lot for someone who’s 24, so I don’t feel the need to do it all just yet. So, for the next year, I’m just working at this job where I’ve been working since college, I’m going to do that full-time and then I’m going to grad school, get my masters degree and then start teaching, so I’m taking it very slow.
F: What did you think about Verse’s break up?
P: I think it was just kind of natural, because both of our bands started at about the same time, we toured a little bit more than what Verse did, but Verse was always a very active band, they put out three LPs and we put out two, so I think it was just a natural evolution. I think, if Verse had been a band that toured more often, then they probably would have done what we did and do like a last summer-type of thing, but I just think they decided it was time for them. We didn’t break up because Verse broke up, a lot of people have thought, “Oh, did Verse breaking up, make you guys want to break up?”, but no. We did a lot of stuff on our own without Verse, it sucks not being able to play shows with them any more, we actually missed their last show. I think they played it a day before we got back from Australia, but we were going to be home for about 10-days after, so I was like, “Why can’t you put it the next weekend?!” It was just a scheduling thing, that’s one thing that I’ll always be pissed off about is missing Verse’s last show, because we did everything together, but every thing’s cool between us.
F: I’ve heard people say, “There’s no such thing as a last show in hardcore.” Will your final show on Edge Day really be the last time you play? Or can we expect reunion shows?
P: None reunion shows whatsoever. I think, unfortunately, our fucking friends in Guns Up! have really tainted the image of breaking up and what that means. We’ve always believed that when you’re dead, you stay dead. We’re not getting back together, that’s just not going to happen. This band is way too important to me to taint it with shitty attempts to bringing it back. I’ve always respected the greats that never got back together, like In My Eyes, Minor Threat and stuff like that, it’s very respectable and it creates more of a time capsule. It sucks because some people are treating us like, “Oh, well, they’ll get back together.”, but it’s really not going to happen. [laughs] We talked about the last show, how it might be really emotional to us, I mean, of course it’ll be a little bit sad that we’re not going to be playing anymore, but we’re not going to be shedding any tears or anything like that, we’ve completely done ourselves out and it’s over. We’re not going to be celebrating, well, we are going to be celebrating, but we’re not going to be throwing up balloons because we broke up. We’re looking forward to the end, because we’ve done everything, it’s like we’re reading the last chapter of a good book, we don’t want to write a shitty sequel to a good book.
F: So, what’s happening with Edge Day? Have any bands been confirmed? Is there a venue yet?
P: Yeah, I think I’m going to announce that in a couple of days, we’re going to do two shows, we want to play one last smaller show in a much smaller venue, there’s a place called Anchors Up in Massachusetts that all the bands go to and our friend Josh has been supporting us since our first show, he runs and owns the venue, he’s been championing and taking care of Massachusetts hardcore since like 1999, so we’re going to do one last show there and that show’s going to be Have Heart, Rise and Fall, The Rival Mob, Soul Control, Free Spirit and Cruel Hand. On the last show, it’s going to be us, Bane, Shipwreck A.D., Step Forward, Foundation, Waste Management and No Tolerance, it’s on Edge Day, so we want to keep a straight edge spirit and we have a special guest that we’re not announcing, it’s like a surprise.
F: What do you think about straight edge today in 2009?
P: I mean, it always comes and goes how people portray it, it’s less popular amongst non-commercial hardcore than the commercial hardcore scene. That’s another reason why Have Heart’s breaking up, we got ourselves caught up in a bit of a situation where, it’s not like we don’t have control, but we started playing on these big tours with barriers and stuff like that, we didn’t even know about it, we’d show up and be like, “What the fuck?” At that point, there’s so much money involved that you can’t turn around and stuff like that, it’s not that we felt like we got too big or anything like that, but we don’t really want to stick around the commercial aspects that people add to hardcore. I think in the commercial area of hardcore, straight edge is really popular, but it’s way less popular and way less cool in the lesser known hardcore scene. It’s generally a lot cooler to party and be down for anything, and not cut yourself off from certain things, and that’s fine, but sometimes that stuff gets out of control and, in general, the majority of drunk people, I don’t like. I’m not saying I don’t like drunk people, but I’ve always maintained that I don’t hate drunk people, I don’t hate people who do drugs, I don’t hate anybody, I just really dislike rude, uncaring people and, 90% of the time, people who drink, from my experience, are fucking assholes. I hate seeing that shit at shows, I hate seeing the party dude-whatever-shithead in the hardcore scene, because I dealt with that at college, I don’t want to deal with it at a fucking show. They’re just a parade of fucking idiots, I hate it sometimes being associated with this thing that I found and originally thought was a way from it, but the hardcore scene is never going to be perfect. It’s never going to be the way you want it and I know that, but it’s still going to bother me when I see traces of the party culture from college and it’s usually those kids who don’t really give everything to the hardcore scene, they’re kind of just there to party and to network and stuff like that. I’ve always found a hardcore scene of individuals who are there for the community aspect of it, I find it to be a much better and enjoyable scene, than when it’s no longer a social-networking club. It’s good for networking and meeting new people, but when it becomes your soul reason for being there, I don’t understand why you just don’t go to a fucking club.
F: Why do you think the label of ‘straight edge’ is important, rather than saying, “I don’t drink, smoke etc.”?
P: It’s not really important to me any more, but I still consider myself to be straight edge, I think it’s really good for young kids who are caught up in that fucked up situation of being young and just really frustrated with everything. I remember being young thinking, “I hate this, I hate that, I hate everything, I don’t like anything!” Like wanting to say “fuck you” to everything and when I was young, I was like, maybe I could say “fuck you” to everybody in this chaotic drunk waste. Then I heard of this thing called ‘straight edge’ and it had such a good ring to it, it seemed really sharp and rebellious, but at the same time, it seemed like it wasn’t going to damage me and that, to me, was like the biggest ‘fuck you’, because it keeps you smart and on top of everything, you’re also not mixing in with the majority of the world that I don’t like. It looked really cool. At the end of the day, when I was young, straight edge was so cool, I wanted to be a part of that, that was when I was 13/14. By the time I was 16, I was realised it was more than a cool thing to fit in, every 13/14 kid and teenagers do things because they want to belong, it’s just natural for any person who’s trying to figure out who they are. I got a little bit older and more and more stuff happened in my life and I thought, “This could be really beneficial to me as a person, it can save a lot of bullshit that I’ve seen a lot of my friends and family deal with, and I’m going to stick by this.” I’m glad because D.A.R.E. wasn’t doing it for me, Parents Advice wasn’t doing it for me, it really came down to a youth culture and that’s what the hardcore scene has always been, this idea of living a sober life, I understood.
As I get older and older, I’m starting to realise that straight edge is almost even more important. I thought that you get older and the appeal of partying, hooking up with someone, drinking – that is an appeal and I get it – but I thought as you get older, people kind of get over that stuff. But now I’m realising, “Shit, I really need to stay away from this stuff” because when you’re older, I’m realising that as my youth is sort of coming to an end, there’s a lot of work to do. I have certain goals, I eventually want to have a family one day, I want to be a good husband, I want to be a good father, I want to work a job and I want to set a responsible example for the people around me. I want to work hard enough to the point where I can make money and support my family, I can’t mix my life with such an addictive thing. It’s like a genetic thing, my family can’t hold their liquor, I can’t take a chance, I can’t be 35-years-old and be like, “I’ll have some whiskey.” or something like that, I can’t do that, I want to live this life and I know I’m not strong enough do that. Getting older, I’m still holding onto threads, I’m not just holding onto for the sake of being ‘straight edge’, I’m holding onto it for life. I’m a pretty strange guy when it comes down to it, anyway.
F: So, none of Have Heart will be breaking edge once the band finishes?
P: I don’t know, I mean, I’m not, I don’t intend on ever doing that ever, it’s just completely not for me and I feel that if I’ve learned anything after 24-years of life, it’s that I can’t be involved in that lifestyle, it’s a certain thing I can’t do. I can’t speak for the other guys, if they choose to do that then that’s fine.
That’s another thing, I don’t think people stay, it’s rare, there’s not many straight edge bands out there from the 80s or 90s where every single member is still straight edge, the only one I can think of and comes to mind is Earth Crisis. All those members from straight edge bands in the 80s and 90s made that decision when they were really young and they grow up, people change, you can’t expect someone to have made a decision at the age of 14 or 16 and still see eye-to-eye with that decision when they’re 30-years-old. I’m not saying it’s ok to go back on your word about straight edge, but I’m just saying I get it, I understand the human condition. I’m not going to get on this recorder and say, “Everyone in Have Heart is going to be straight edge for the rest of their lives.”, I don’t know. That’s another reason, I’m not saying I doubt it, but the odds are against Have Heart to remain, as a whole, all straight edge, but if I member broke edge, I mean, we’re not getting back together, but if a member broke edge, then we’re certainly never getting back together.
F: As a touring band, with album sales as they are, how did and do you make ends meet to travel around the world and such? Was the money factor partially responsible for you guys breaking up?
P: In the hardcore scene, album sales are usually just beneficial to the label, I’m not saying it’s not beneficial to the band because we do see a lot of that, but it’s mainly helpful to the labels. Our source of income is usually from the shows and from merchandise, but I have to say, I hate merchandise and I hate t-shirts. I hate having to come up with new designs, it’s such a headache and I hate making hardcore such a material thing.
But the whole record sales thing, we couldn’t make it and we couldn’t do any of this touring without that, it’s unfortunate, but we legitimately have to do that. I always think of Fugazi, in terms of t-shirt making because they never made one t-shirt and that was their shtick and all their shows were $5 each, and they toured the entire world. I remember just thinking, “Wow.” I mean, we’re not Fugazi, I’m not Ian MacKaye, fucking Kei is not Picciottio, we’re not Minor Threat or Rites of Spring, we’re not the founders of hardcore, so obviously there’s not going to be millions of people coming up to our shows. That always bugged me, Fugazi was one of the first bands I heard of, because my brother was really into them and I remember reading about their ethics and stuff like that, it’s pretty cool, it’s about the music and the message, and it shouldn’t be about be about turning it into a commodity or the merchandise aspect of it. We wanted to tour and connect with people and a lot of that has been on selling, and we don’t view it as like money, I view it like gas in our tank and rent to give to my landlord and stuff like that, we don’t make anything. [laughs]
That’s another thing, when you do as much as we do, we’ve given like everything, my girlfriend and I broke up because I was gone so much. I got pretty good grades in college, but my grades could have been much better had I focused on just school, not the band, because we were touring, it wasn’t as if we weren’t touring at all, we’d do five days of school and then we’d tour on the weekends, like three days of shows. I remember getting out of class one day and getting in to the van, and then coming back from tour and dropping me right back at school. It was ridiculous, we’ve been on tour for fucking forever, we’ve just given everything.
F: How do you feel about people illegally downloading your records?
P: That’s fine, I don’t give a shit, that’s cool and I think music has to eventually enter that direction and that is incredibly idealistic. It’s pushing more responsibility on community, the audience and the listeners to support these bands, and that time has come for them to show it in terms of buying stuff. If anything, it can make you more creative, like push bands to become much more creative in terms of writing something so good that these people have to listen and buy. Music is just so easily attained, so now you really want to write good music because you can get music from anywhere, I think it’s fine and it’s happening. With most music labels, sometimes it’s really ridiculous, these bands have been working so hard, not that the labels don’t work hard, but bands that work so fucking hard and give everything, then the labels come in and sort of boss you around – I’m not saying this is what Bridge Nine does, it’s just stories I’ve heard.
F: How did Bridge Nine react to your break up?
P: They kind of knew, I’ve known Chris [Wrenn, Bridge Nine Records owner] for a while and we’ve always said that we don’t know what we’re doing next and we did Songs To Scream At The Sun and told him about the world tour, so I think he kind of got the idea, he just thought that it wasn’t going to be so soon. They’re fine with it.
F: You’re pretty much the epitome of hardcore in 2009, which bands do you think have the potential to fill your shoes and become the flagship band in hardcore?
P: I mean, I’m not just saying this to be modest or anything like that, but when I first got into hardcore, there was no internet and there was no real ‘top’ band, and there was no YouTube, you couldn’t what was happening or the set, you just heard about it and you read about it in a zine, you had to make it up in your mind. It was very hard to figure out who was the popular band, I liked that because you just listen to what you want to listen to because you liked it and not because it was popular.
I remember Bane would always come through and it was always the craziest shows, I just knew that they were such a great band, but I didn’t know how they did in other places, I just assumed that, but thinking of a ‘top’ band is kind of weird for me. I just like thinking of bands writing music and playing, and I feel like the internet has really changed that, for the past seven years or so. I mean, everyone always complains how things are now and look back thinking, “Oh, things were great then and why aren’t things now the way they were back then?” Everyone says that, it’s a terrible, stupid cycle, but there is such a fucking stock of boring and fucking tripe, shitty hardcore coming out, like no one writes a good LP. Well, I’m not saying no one, but I feel like people are trying too hard to be the ‘top’ band, it just ends up becoming really contrived and the music sucks. The pressure to do that affects the people writing the music and then they fold underneath the pressure and they get frustrated and they settle, I always hated that aspect and I feel that’s a big problem with hardcore now. I can count on my hand the bands that are playing good hardcore just for the sake of playing and not to ‘hold the torch’.
In the States now, there’s like the Sound and Fury festival and all these organised festivals, it was cool at first, but now it’s almost becoming an Olympic thing, like who finishes first and who got the best set at this one show, and then it dictates how things go for people. I say the way kids talk and they’re more excited about just the festival and not tours coming through, and it’s kind of a shame, I think, but that’s just how shit happens. I think the internet has just fucked everything up.
F: So, a lot of people are sad about you breaking up, what bands were you sad about breaking up?
P: I remember Count Me Out broke up and I was so fucking pissed off, because they were supposed to play in Boston at The Suicide File record release of Twilight, and they cancelled because their van broke down or something like that and I thought, “I’ll just see them next time they’re on tour.” I had seen them a couple of times before, but I never got to see them on the Permanent record, and then the next week, they made an announcement saying, “We’re breaking up, our show’s next week.” And I was like, “What? Your live in Richmond and I live in Boston and I’m 15…” so, that was a bummer because I couldn’t get to see them one last time on the Permanent record. I heard that show was awesome, though – Austin, the new guitarist of Have Heart, was at that show. That really sucked. What Feeds the Fire, a band from Providence, Rhode Island, Sean Murphy’s band before Verse, and they broke up, so that sucked. I remember at the same time, this band called XFilesX, they’re from the town where I grew up in, those guys really got me into hardcore and they appeared to be on their way out, so I could tell that too. So, Count Me Out broke up, What Feeds the Fire broke up, XFilesX was looking like they were going to break up, then The First Step broke up, before they got back together, so that sucked. I remember being stoked on the first Champion 7”, the Come Out Swinging record, because there were no straight edge bands, so that was a tragic time in my life [laughs] since straight edge bands were gone. Ever since then, though, there hasn’t really been a whole lot of bands who’ve broke up that I’ve been too sad about. Bane is still around, they have a new song out and it’s awesome, their 7” is going to be out on Triple B Records, but, yeah, there haven’t really been any bands that I’ve been too crushed about leaving us, I don’t know if that’s a bad thing…
F: What about Modern Life is War?
P: Oh, yeah, I wasn’t bummed, but I wasn’t happy to see them go, I really milked them, that was one of the few bands I really liked, because they were from nowhere. Being from Boston, I was just really tired of seeing all these kids not even from Massachusetts living off the Boston-image, like kids from fucking Connecticut or New York going to college in Boston and riding off the ‘Boston hype’ or whatever, it just drove me fucking nuts. Then there was this no-band that came from Iowa, and I was like, “Woah, these are cool, they don’t sound like anybody else, they’re just doing what they want.” I feel that Jeff Eaton’s lyrics really zoomed in on what it meant to be really young and disillusioned with life, just like being young with a wide future ahead of you, at that time in my life it was good hearing someone write about that. I think I just got older, I really liked their last record a lot, Midnight In America, I think it was their best, but each one was different, I can’t really say which one was the best, but I really liked the last record. I didn’t grow out of them, I would have loved to have seen them still around and stuff like that, I wasn’t sad, but I was like, “Shit, that sucks.” I really enjoyed going to their shows.
F: What I appreciate about Have Heart is that you’re a major advocate of women in hardcore.
P: Yeah, I mean, it’s such a party, frat house-style of living in the way that some talk about women, it’s so tasteless and low, go to fucking Ozzfest if you want this anti-women thing. When hardcore first started, it was like a ‘boys club’ as most people kind of referred to it as, but that was because it was run by really young kids. The thing is, I believe in progress, I don’t believe in stagnancy. I remember Ian MacKaye talking about regretting creating such a misogynistic scene back then and we can learn from that and go beyond that. I’m a brother to a sister and, obviously, a son to a mother, and I can’t feel good about accepting a demoralising way of treating women, especially in the hardcore scene, what the fuck? Like I said, the Ozzfest, frat boy, dumbass shit, get it out. There’s definitely rebellion needed towards mainstream society, the world is such a sexist place. That’s why I always make it apparent that we’re always open and welcoming of women, and make sure that any guy who felt different was offended by me, if I could. [laughs] Like at a show, I’ll always let them know that I think it sucks, in my opinion.
F: At your shows, I always see a lot more girls at the front signing along and stage-diving and such, than at other hardcore shows.
P: Yeah, and I think that’s cool, as long as they’re not there for my pretty face. [laughs] I’m just kidding. I’m not exactly making the prettiest faces when we play. It’s usually more women that know the lyrics to the verses, like the meat and the real content of the songs, they always know the lyrics, and that’s one thing that’s always stood out, in terms of people who liked our band. It’s not that guys don’t know the lyrics or anything like that, but girls would definitely know the small parts more.
F: Do you think that the role of women in hardcore has changed over time, do you think it has gotten better?
P: No, I’m not going to lie and say, “Oh, yeah, every thing’s great for women.” It would be hard for me to name as many female-fronted bands as there are male-fronted bands. There’s always the debate of ‘Who is more aggressive biologically?’ and whatnot, I think that idea is for the birds, but in our culture, in the television and media, violence and anger is always associated with as a male trait. When you’re growing up, you’re told to do one thing and the girls are told to do this thing, but, like I said, I think that debate is for the birds. I think women are if not more aggressive than men sometimes, but it’s just the way our society has shaped us and it plays out in the hardcore scene.
F: Do you think more bands should be more responsible and try to promote and build a better hardcore community between men and women, like what Have Heart has tried to do?
P: Yeah, I think so, it should be a subject that should be addressed, but I’m not ‘Mr P.C.’ and I’m not a feminist by any means, but I do believe in equality and respect. I say I’m not a feminist not because I mean it like, “Eurgh, I’m not a feminist!” I adhere to the true definition of feminism, like Elizabeth Cady standards, a real fucking feminist, not like this bullshit-shitty-modern-Destiny’s-Child-girl-power thing. The argument for women to do pornography because it’s an example of freedom and stuff like that, I can see how that can sort of be empowering, but there’s other ways to go about it. [laughs] It’s just that I’m talking about real women of principle, that’s why I don’t consider myself a feminist, I think the modern definition of feminism is kind of lost, it’s more about the look and lifestyle. I think the whole riot grrrl movement was important and it had really good intentions, and it was really interesting, but it kind of burnt out after a while, I think, because a lot of people were just into it for the fashion of it. When I first started going to shows, a lot of girls were involve with the riot grrrl scene, and they didn’t really measure up to what I thought a feminist was, but then again, who am I to say what feminism is? I’m a guy! Nah, I have every right to comment on what I think feminism is, but the way these girls would hold themselves around males or other females, I just didn’t really buy into it. I just think it’s lost its meaning, so that’s why I don’t consider myself a feminist, which isn’t even the question you asked, but there’s your answer. [laughs]
F: Have Heart is known for its consistently intense live shows, but has there been a show that’s particularly stood out for you?
P: In Nevada, last summer, we played the song, Brotherly Love for the first time and I had never even sung it with the band. I didn’t like playing it at first, it’s a very, very personal song, it’s a very heavy song for me to sing, I felt very strange writing about that, taking this fact and truth, this shitty situation in my life and bringing it to music, that’s why I didn’t like it at first. I was planning on never even playing it, but we knew it and this kid came up to me in Reno, I don’t even think our record was out yet, and he said, “Can you play that song?” It was funny because the year before, we played in Reno and it was the worst show ever, I was like, “We’re never going back here. Ever.” [laughs] I try to never have any expectations of any show, but I had every reason to believe that this show was going to be terrible, like it was the year before, but it was going pretty well and Verse played, it was really good. I don’t feel that hardcore has to be this very emotional experience, I never really intend on emotionally-involved shows, but it just happened. So, that set stands out in my mind, because it was the first time playing it and I think I actually sang like two-words of it. It’s really easy to have it in your head and not think about it, I kind of just avoid it here and there, but every second and note of that song, playing it for the first time, I had a very hard time turning away from the focus of what that song was about, so it was a pretty wild time playing that.
F: What band has had the biggest impact on you live?
P: I think Bane has made the most impact on me, just because they were one of the first bands I saw in the hardcore scene where everything just about them made my life easier and made things really easy for me, always made me feel better and kind of formed me as a person, so their shows are always pretty important to me.
F: How do you react being called one of modern hardcore’s most influential and historical bands?
P: I don’t know how influential we are, I don’t hear too many bands sounding a whole lot like us, I feel like the whole New York-sound is really popular again, which I always found funny because most of those kids aren’t even from New York, let alone an urban setting, let alone from an authentic culture where that sound came from. I mean, I love Madball and all those DMS bands, but it didn’t hit me because I couldn’t wholeheartedly relate to that, and there’s nothing wrong with liking stuff that you don’t totally see eye-to-eye on, but I always felt a little bit strange singing a song called Down By Law, because I don’t really know what it means to be ‘Down By Law’. It’s one thing just singing along with it, but it’s when you adopt the lifestyle and the image, it just seems so inauthentic, like c’mon! There’s certain bands out there, we’ve stayed at their house and they have in-ground pools, marble settings, four floors, they live in mansions, and they’re getting up on stage talking about how they’re living in the ghetto and it’s how they present themselves as well, be a little more authentic to who you are. It should just be about playing music and not creating music that becomes part of their culture, that’s why I really like Modern Life is War, like they had their own Iowa sound. Madball sounds the way they sound because they’re from Brooklyn, it makes sense. I’m not saying you can’t play music that doesn’t match your thing, but there’s a way to go about it where you’re not ripping off someone’s identity. There’s a band called The Rival Mob, they have a New York hardcore sound, I grew up with them and they hold themselves not in this way where they’re like these fucking thugs, they’re not wiggers. [laughs] They do it in a very authentic, realistic way, they’re not ripping off the culture, that’s something else that pisses me off in hardcore.
F: A lot of stuff seems to piss you off in hardcore, why are you even in it?!
P: [laughs] Because I believe in it, I’m always going to have issues with hardcore, they always come and go, like I had this issue four years ago, then it went away and it came back, it just happens.
F: Looking at your lyrics, you seem to be a big fan of writing metaphorically about the sun, trees, and nature, in general, why so?
P: I always go to bed late, so I always see the sunrise and usually when you go to bed that late and you’re watching the sunrise, you’re by yourself and they’re usually really intimate moments. My father was born in Boston and joined the military, so we had family moving around and at one point in my life, I was born in New Jersey and when I was about six-months-old my father transferred to Arizona, so from the time I was six-months-old to the time where I was about five, it was full of all these crazy fundamental foundational stages of my life. I grew up in Arizona, which is the land of the most beautiful sunsets and my memory of Arizona is just pink, because I have all these pictures of when I was a kid and they’re all pink because the sun is setting on all of them and, really, that’s my memory of it. I remember I had this backyard and there were mountains in the back, and I’d just be a little kid playing in his backyard and I’d see the sun setting on all these epic mountains, and I think it just really spilled into metaphorical things, like things that have purpose and whatnot, and became the foundation and core of me.
We then lived in Washington DC for a little bit and then my father retired from the army and I grew up in the Boston area, and New England is one of the most turbulent, crazy places to live in terms of weather, the seasons are so rich. If you look at all the poets that have come from New England, their style of writing is insane, it just makes sense, it’s so emotional to live there, in my opinion, because you have a beautiful, green, vibrant summer, the weather goes from incredibly fucking hot, then there’s like a cooling time in September and the beginning of October, and then between the middle and end of October, everything just illuminates on fire, every fucking tree is like yellow or red, it’s just so dramatic, and you get that for like two-and-a-half weeks, and then you blink your eyes and it’s gone, all the trees are fucking dead! You go from this great, green summer and you’re like, “Ah, it’s so fucking hot.” then the cooling and it’s the most perfect weather to walk around in, and the trees are beautiful and you put a little coat on, then things are dead and it’s fucking freezing. Then the snow comes and it looks absolutely gorgeous, but then a couple of days after the snow, it stops snowing and life resumes and cars are always running through the snow, and the snow is black, in Wolf Whistle, I have a couple of songs about that, and it’s so fucking cold there. Going to work in the morning, you can find the real spirit of someone in Massachusetts in like a late February/early March morning of someone rubbing the ice off their car and getting into the car freezing. Then it slowly deteriorates and you still have all these shitty trees, then it slowly starts coming back and starts rehabilitating, then the weather gets cooler again and then it comes back and the trees are back, and you’re like, “Oh my God, it’s back!”, then it repeats the whole thing over, so it’s like a big rollercoaster ride of emotions. I think it just makes sense in the terms of how I write and the things I see, because that’s what I see and I’m a very sensitive guy, things like that have an effect on me, I do write about trees a lot. [laughs] If I lived in the desert, I’d be writing about sand. [laughs]
F: Is there anything you’d change or regret during your time in Have Heart?
P: I would change the recording of The Things We Carry, I think the back-up vocals are way too loud, it’s just like, “Argh!” You can hear the individual voices, it just bothers me. At some point, I am going to go back to Bridge Nine and ask them if I can remix the recording, because it bothers me so much. I remember hearing all those songs in the basement of the apartment we were living in, in Boston when we wrote that, we recorded it off a video camera, then we played the video camera and put it on our iPods or something like that, it’s just so fucking raw and hard and heavy, and it was so great, The Things We Carry was just too polished, the back-up vocals are just way too loud and Jim, who recorded for us, he kind of, in terms of the back-up session, he was really rushing it and it kind of sounds sloppy, in my opinion, so I’d really like to re-do that. I’d also like to take that song Old Man off of it, it just doesn’t fit, I don’t hate the song, I like the song, but it doesn’t fit at all. Everything with the second record was perfect, in my opinion, I love that record, I’m really happy with it.
I would have been a little more safe about the audience, not the audience we play to, I was very happy to play to non-hardcore audiences where the kids were coming out from like a Bring Me The Horizon show or something like that, I feel like it’s cool because maybe we can get them into good hardcore or something like that, instead of staying in that whole terrible, terrible, terrible scene of life, you can put that in there, I don’t care and you can put that in there too. [laughs] I wish we didn’t get caught in barrier shows and stuff like that, I thought that was kind of unfortunate.
There’s a couple of t-shirt designs that I wish we didn’t do, well, I didn’t make them, someone else made them. Oh, one thing I fucking hated, the Have Heart logo that has the ‘Have’ big and the ‘Heart’ little, it’s so stupid, why would you stress the word ‘Have’?! It doesn’t make any fucking sense, it’s all because of this fucking dude, who’s our friend, and designed it for us, we needed something and Bridge Nine took it, and we got stuck with it and just can’t fucking erase it. We can’t erase it. [laughs] Those are some regrets, there’s nothing wrong with regret, everyone’s like, “Oh, I don’t regret anything.” You’re lying if you have no regrets.
I wish I managed to be a better boyfriend to my girlfriend, because we ended up breaking up, that’s a deep regret I have. I could have made it so we were home some more, I could have searched a little bit harder for a phone to get in touch with her, stuff like that, that kind of sucked, but you know, that’s regret. That is regret.
F: Change the record, who should we be listening to? Let me guess, Youth of Today…
P: Yeah, Youth of Today is a really good, foundational hardcore band, for positive hardcore, straight edge hardcore, and hardcore, in general. Swiz is another favourite band of mine, they take everything about hardcore, they just say, “Fuck you!” and just the attitude, and the aesthetic of Swiz is just great, they’re a great band, I’ve always absolutely loved them, they’ve always kept my attitude towards hardcore sharp and not stagnant and not down for the bullshit that is always coming out. Bane is a timeless and perfect representation of hardcore, time and time again, they just do it, they’ve done everything right. They have such a fucking fiery passion for hardcore, it’s a real generic word, but they just give it all. They’ve never done a video, they’ve had so much success on a big label, but they’ve never done a label, they’ve never sold out to the stupid mainstream trends of hardcore, they’ve always kept it really real and they’ve always been down to tour with different bands and reach out to other people, they’ve never given a fuck whatsoever about what’s ‘in’ and I think that’s a great attitude for hardcore.
Newer bands, I’d say a band called The Rival Mob from Boston, good hardcore band. This band called Step Forward, which Ryan from Have Heart is in, a straight edge band and really influenced by early styles of hardcore. There’s a band called Rotting Out from California, they’re pretty cool. Shipwreck is great. Oh, the new Rise and Fall record is awesome! I’m not just saying that because we’re on tour with them, it is good.
Hardcore has just been rubbed in my fucking face for so god damn long, I’ve got to take a break from stuff and step back, I’ve hardly listened to any hardcore lately. I really just listen to Rage Against The Machine and this band called Jawbox, and that’s it, it’s all I like. [laughs]
F: Nothing that would surprise us?
P: I’ve always liked Blink-182, I think the last record was great, it was really cool. I’m excited to see what they do next, I’m glad they’re back together. Have you heard of Ladyhawke? That Delirium song is great. I listen to a lot of Deftones, which usually gets thrown into the whole Korn, nu-metal-mix to most people, but they’re a pretty fucking talented band, doing their own thing, a lot of people are surprised when I say I listen to the Deftones. Especially when writing your own music, listen to the Deftones, people don’t know because they don’t listen, but anyone who listens to the Deftones and hears Have Heart, they’re like, “Oh, yeah, you guys really like Deftones, don’t you?!” [laughs] That was cool, we actually got to play with them in California, they’re a good band.
F: Is there anything else you want to say after an hour-and-a-half?
P: An hour-and-a-half?! Yes! What’s the time? Oh, wow, shit. Good luck writing that out and don’t eat the kebabs in Southampton, you’ll puke everywhere.
Many thanks to Pat and don’t miss out on seeing Have Heart, they play their final show on October 17th in Boston, for tour dates and more information visit: www.myspace.com/haveheart