Running along like a well-oiled machine, Boston rockers Doomriders have been putting out their own blend of punk-tinged metal since 2005, including a series of splits with Boris, Disfear and a Danzig cover album with Coliseum thrown in for good measure. Playing shows off the back of their 2009 release, ‘Darkness Come Alive’, Doomriders have taken to Australia this month alongside Canberra’s own I Exist. BLUNT caught up with the band’s guitarist and vocalist Nate Newton to chat about what got him into the business in the first place, how touring’s become a piece of cake and how he manages the balancing act of being in both Doomriders and Converge.
How did Doomriders come about?
It was weird, me and Chris [Pupecki], the other guitarist, had been friends for a long time and kinda had the same taste in music and had always talked about playing music together, but I don’t think we ever had a real plan to start a band. We just wanted to play guitar together in his parents’ garage, so we kinda did that for a few years just riffing together. Somewhere along the line, Jebb [Riley], our bassist, had heard we were jamming and was like, “Hey man, can I come over and play with you guys?” and he did, and then I don’t know how it happened, but it morphed into a band and here we are now.
All of you play, or at least you have played, in other bands, like you’re in Converge, some of the other guys are in Cast Iron Hike and Disappearer; did that ever make touring and writing difficult for Doomriders?
Oh yeah, very much so. Especially because of Converge. Converge is obviously a pretty busy band, so it can make scheduling stuff hard and obviously Doomriders want to do as much as possible, so with Converge and being on the road, we try to schedule Doomriders shows, but then if Doomriders play shows, we don’t have any time to write new music, so because of how busy I am with both bands, I sort of have to plan out my whole year in advance and say, “Okay, in this block of time we’re gonna play shows and in this block of time we’re gonna write a new record”. Now the other guys all have real jobs and stuff, and there’s babies and other bands; it makes everything a little bit more complicated, but I think it also makes all of us appreciate it more when we are able to do it.
What did you first want to get out of music when you started playing?
Honestly, I just wanted to have fun and make music that I wanted to hear. I never in a million years would have thought that I would be able to do what I’m doing playing hardcore. If you had told the fifteen year old me that I would be doing what I’m doing now, I would have laughed in your face and said that it’s not even possible. For me, I grew up in Virginia and I started going to punk shows when I was twelve or thirteen years old in the late ‘80s, and I would see all these bands come to town and all I wanted to do was play hardcore like they did. It seemed like they weren’t much different from me. They were just kids in bands having fun, and especially back then, there was no money in it, so really the reward was just being able to play, and so that’s all I ever wanted.
Was there any one moment that made you decide that you wanted to be a musician?
There were definitely a few moments that pointed me in that direction, like the first time I saw Bad Brains. They were the band that kinda showed me what really passionate music was and made me be like, “I envy that, I wish I could be that honest and that real and have that kind of energy and passion”, but then I think the band or the moment – it all kind of blurs together – that really made me say, “I can do this and I want to do this” was Avail. Avail was a punk band from a few towns over from where I lived, not much older than me, and in the early ‘90s they were putting out their own records, booking their own tours, making their own merchandise, and just doing everything on their own terms and making these great records and they just inspired me. They were the first band that made me realise that I didn’t have to be from musical genius or have to have all of these musical resources; I could just make it happen on my own, and I’ll forever be grateful to them for that.
Considering you were actually playing shows in the mid ‘90s, how do you think touring has changed since then?
It’s SO much easier now. When I hear younger bands complaining about how hard it is to be on tour, I just laugh. I mean, I’m sure that hardcore bands that were touring in the early ‘80s think that I’m a wuss, but it’s so much easier. There’s cell phones, you can just call anybody, you can get on the internet on your phone. There’s the Internet – that right there makes everything easier. It used to be, when you were on tour, if you didn’t know how to get to the club, you had to go find a payphone and call the promoter and hope that he was there. It was just so different. We used to do things through the mail, like book our shows through the mail. You’d go out on the road and just have this letter from this guy saying, “Oh yeah, I’m gonna do a show for you guys at this place”, and you’d just hope that when you showed up, there was actually gonna be a show there. It’s crazy, it really is. GPS’s, cell phones, the Internet – everything. In general, this kind of music is a lot more broadly accepted. Everything is much easier. The Internet makes things much more accessible to people. It certainly has its negatives, but you can’t stop progress, so you might as well just deal with it.
Your last album ‘Darkness Come Alive’ came out in 2009. What have you guys been up to since as a band?
We played a lot of shows, our drummer on that record JR [John-Robert Conners] had to leave the band because he just had some serious commitments with his family and his job and his other band Cave In, so he just really didn’t have the time to do it, so when he left the band we got our friend Q, who plays drums in the band Clouds, and a lot of time was spent teaching Q the songs and getting him ready to play shows. We’ve done a little bit of writing, but not much, so once we do the Australian tour, we’re gonna try and crank out a new record. We’ve just gotta get the touring outta the way first before we can focus on writing it.
You guys are making your way down to Australia for the first time in July. How does it feel having fans halfway across the world?
It’s absolutely mind-blowing to me. Mind-blowing. It’s the same thing with Converge. It just blows my mind that anybody anywhere cares about anything I’ve ever done, so the fact that we get to travel and play music to people who actually wanna hear what we’re trying to do, I mean I’m flawed by that. It’s amazing to me. I think I just sounded like a hippie.
You must have touring down to a fine art by now. What moments have really stuck in your mind and been memorable for you?
We’ve played a tonne of really great shows that were just completely insane, people smashing things, beer everywhere – complete insanity, but I think the things that stick out in my mind more than our shows are some of the bands that we’ve gotten to share the stage with, like playing shows with Blue Cheer was amazing and humbling. Playing shows with Danzig was amazing, you know, sharing the stage with one of my favourite musicians of all time. We’ve been very, very fortunate and very lucky. Those are the things that really stick out in my mind, especially Blue Cheer before Dickie died, like getting to meet those guys and just seeing how down to earth they were and just excited about playing music still, almost forty years later, it was pretty inspiring.
You’ve been doing so much over the past two decades, what are you most proud of in your career?
You know, I can’t say that I’m more proud of one record than I am of any other, honestly I’m proud of the fact that I’ve never put my name on something that I thought was sub-par. I’m proud of everything I’ve done and I think that’s what I’m most proud of, being able to say that I like everything I’ve done and that I don’t think any of it sucks. I guess no musician is gonna say that his music sucks, but I hold myself to pretty high standards when it comes to song writing, you know, I yank my hair out about it constantly and I’m constantly second-guessing myself, so when a new record comes out, you can be sure that it’s been put through the wringer many, many times. I don’t put out a record that I don’t think is good and is worth someone else’s time, so that’s what I’m most proud of. Being able to put out records that I myself would buy if it weren’t my band.
By Emily Swanson.