The Underground Sounds Of America: Phobia
Welcome to the latest installment of USA: The Underground Sounds of America, our series that shines a spotlight on the most underrated rock, metal, punk, and hardcore bands in the United States. Each week, we ask one band member to answer five unique questions so you can get to know them better. Because if you aren’t already a fan of the artist featured below… you should be.
The generally-accepted wisdom is that one grows chiller and more relaxed with age — which makes Phobia an aberration to say the least. Since 1990, the California grindcore crew have been releasing some of the fastest, shortest, angriest songs on the face of the earth, all in the name of giving the finger to society and social norms. Not only have Phobia hung around longer than many of their peers, but they’ve always done things the punk-as-fuck way, having only released six studio albums since they’ve formed, all the while putting out an endless array of splits, EPs, and 7“s.
“We just do what we feel is right at the time,” says frontman Shane Mclachlan. “We love working with many people, and we love crossing over. A split is a good way to cross paths with other fanbases and gain new fans as opposed to preaching to the choir. Our band is a band that likes to express ideas and views — we have our ideology and ethics we believe in, and we want to express this, not force it. I don’t want to just write and write — when it’s done, it’s done. Don’t force that next song — let it end naturally, and it will be full of sincerity.”
The band’s new EP, Generation Coward, certainly wastes no time getting sincere about its themes. With tracks like Internet Tough Guy, PC Fascist Fuck Off, and Haters Be Hating When Ya Living Good, the 13-song record is a scorching blast of contempt at modern music fandom and online culture. In Shane’s mind, this rancor is something he wants every Phobia fan to hear out loud.
“I want [listeners] to hear the revolutionary idea of this record,” says Shane. “We live in a call-out culture with trolls online who create lies and slander people. It’s straight-up cowardly…I feel embarrassed for them. And you can say they will just get dealt with at shows, but they don’t go to shows, they sit in their mom’s basement and talk shit. I want them to feel an atmosphere of fighting back against bullies online. There’s no reason to just write another record if there’s nothing to write about — shit, Willie Nelson taught me that.”
Momentarily able to drag ourselves out of the cyclone of negativity and bile that is the world, we reached out to Shane to find out what’s kept Phobia pissed off for nearly three decades.
1) If you had a play a newcomer one Phobia song to introduce them to the band, what would it be, and why?
I would probably say Loud, Proud…And Punk As Fuck! It basically breaks down the band’s anatomy and chemistry! We are all three of these things, and so it’d be the best.
2) Who are Phobia’s five biggest musical influences?
I would say:
3) What’s one time on the road that something’s gone either horribly wrong or miraculously right?
Damn, after touring for so long, we have so many stories to go with. There’ve been so many wrongs and rights! I think one time, we were rolling into Detroit and our van blew a tire and we ran off the road and into a ditch. I rolled out and fell into a dead cow carcass — it smelled so bad, I needed a drink. Highway patrol came along, and a few dudes stayed with van and waited for tow truck while highway patrol took me into town and dropped me off at a bar. That worked out well!
4) Between the title and track names, it seems like the recurring theme on Generation Coward is anger at modern PC and Internet culture. Did a specific instance inspire you to write about those themes, or was it a lot of things?
Yes, there is a lot of hostility on this record, and don’t mistake being angry with being upset and irrational about things. I don’t even know what ‘PC’ is — all I know is, you do good by people, you get good things; you steal, you get bad; you talk shit and accuse people of things without representation, you get your ass handed to you. These are principles I grew up on. If you are into music community…a community communicates, based on the facts (not allegations). You don’t just go throw shit online because you were told to. FUCK music blogs who allow this shit with out any proof or understanding. You fuckers should be ashamed of yourselves, assholes. TAKE THE TIME TO UNDERSTAND, MAKE YOUR OWN OPINION. YOU ARE A PART OF THE PROBLEM NOT THE SOLUTION. GET IT RIGHT!
5) After all these years, is it hard to keep the fires of rage stoked? One assumes, listening to the new album, that you guys haven’t chilled out in your old age…
Yeah, I think as people we may have chilled out for sure — we have kids maybe jobs and have other priorities. But when it comes to the band, it’s 100%. I think that goes for most bands, you know? And it’s easy to keep the rage fire going. It’s in our blood, it’s what we do!
Phobia’s Generation Coward comes out Friday, August 9th, on Willowtip Records, and is available for preorder.
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