This interview was done by Benjamin Kollath a few months back for the Hungary zine Arch Vile.
Hey there! First introduce yourself and other members of the band. Can you give us the brief history of Sidetracked (main releases, best tours, etc.)?
I'm Jay. I started the band in 2000 and we played our first show in December of 2000. Brian joined in January of 2001 and has drummed for us since. Andrew has played bass for us live since 2010. I've always written the music and lyrics and for the past 12 years have provided vocals, guitar and bass on the recordings (besides the Wrench tape) I did only vocals live for the first 10 years but now do vocals and guitar live. Some important releases I think would be the "One Lane Road Ahead" cd for it was a result of many years of riffs, frustration, near band breakups and I consider it the start of our "second wave". I think the "Hustle" tape and "In Disgust split" 7in showed our foray into the full on short song assault, with a good attention to flow and production. I think our "Uniform" 7inch is our best because of the chaotic nature and it's just my favorite overall, but would like to add I'm extremely proud of the string of releases from "Uniform-Forfeit-Wrench-Self Inflicted split and Gaz 66 split". Those all came out within a short amount of time from each other and it felt good to be that productive and with that diverse of material. As for tours, we did a semi-full US tour in 2008 that had some good shows and in 2009 we played Speed Trials at Gilman with some other cool fastcore and grind bands. Nothing too crazy to report on with any other tours. We usually would go down the west coast with another band of friends. Some people would care. Most wouldn't and that would be that.
If someone asks me to describe the main characteristics of your music, the first thing that comes to mind is that your songs are mostly damn short. Is there some specific reason behind this?
The first record I heard with predominantly short songs was Agnostic Front's "United Blood" and it blew my little 16 year old mind. After that I came across Capitalist Casualties "Raised Ignorant" and that was it. I have a different view on short songs than most people. I think for a lot of people they see them as underdeveloped. I focus on song structure, or more importantly, an alternative to the pop song "verse-chorus" method. That's not to say I don't listen to pop song based bands, or even have some straight forward Sidetracked songs. But for the most part, I think there are endless formulas for writing hardcore/power-violence songs. Mike Watt and Chuck Dukowski both summed up how I feel with "The song lasts as long as the inspiration lasts".
What bands were the biggest influences for you?
I would say my biggest influences would be No Comment, Capitalist Casualties, Lack of Interest and Straight Ahead/NYC Mayhem. There are so many influences that creep up though. Anything from demo era Negative Approach, Poison Idea, Heist, Napalm Death "Scum", Bone Awl, Morbid Angel, Nihilist Commando, early 7 Minutes of Nausea, Blasphemy, Chain of Strength, Sissy Spacek, early Sick of it All, Rupture, Disclose, Right Brigade, the list goes on and on. While that's a diverse set of influences, I'd like to think that things get sent through the "Sidetracked filter" enough that it still sounds like us.
On your Bandcamp page, there’s a preview of your upcoming „Abandon” 7’ EP, which are only drum/vocal tracks. The whole EP is like that?
Yes, that is just drums and vocals with some feedback from the vocals. It's actually going to be a cd that I am going to release myself through "Problems They Persist". It's 24 songs total. It's much more noisegrind influenced than anything else we've done. Andrew and I are big fans of stuff like Gore Beyond Necropsy, World and Nikudorei. It probably doesn't sound like any of those bands, but we are fans. The drums are cut up and edited quite a bit too which could be somewhat reminiscent of Aunt Mary or Arsedestroyer.
How much time does a Sidetracked set take on a show? Is it enough to get yourself through to the audience?
We usually play about 25 songs and that lasts about 10 minutes. I think that is plenty to get our point across. We try to play a few songs from all our releases. At the end of the set, I am done. Some people complain it's too short. Oh well. Keep em wanting more, and if people don't like you, they can go to the corner store and get a soda pop. We'll be finished before you get back.
You got a lot of releases coming up, can you tell us a few words about them?
As for releases that are completed or near complete, the split 10" with Gride should be coming out this year on Insane Society. We recorded 10 rough rehearsal style tracks that I just laid studio vocals over to be released as the "Escape" cd. Next on the docket to be recorded would be the split 7" with To The Point, split tape with God's America, Opposition 7", Gorgonized Dorks split cd, Scalped split 7", Untitled tape, Violent Opposition split 7", Limbs Bin split tape, a variety of stand alone releases, and a full length to be released on To Live a Lie.
What are Sidetracked’s lyrics mostly about?
Definitely more on the personal tip. Venting about frustrations surrounding certain people or situations and sometimes examining myself and my actions. Lately it has been a mix of personal and some more abstract lyrics.
Have you guys been to Europe yet? Is it among your plans to get over the pond?
We have not been to Europe yet. It would be interesting but at this point in time I do not see it happening. I have my family responsibilities, and I don't enjoy destroying my voice night after night. We also are in several bands and live in one of the most often toured areas so we get to play with most of our favorite bands regardless. I've also heard European crowds give you a really hard time if you play a short set. Is this true??
Last year you had a split with GAZ-66 Intrusion from Ukraine, which is next to Hungary. What else do you know about Hungary?
I know nothing about Hungary to be honest! I don't know if I can name a single band. I'm sorry Ben!
As much as i know you have a 3-year old daughter, how is she? Will she follow her father’s path of becoming a hardcore musician? How do you adjust the time spent with your band with the time you spend with your other stuff? Most people quit making music when they start a family.
I do have a 3 year old daughter and she is incredible (but also quite the troublemaker lately!) I try not to expose her to too much hardcore as the yelling is probably very confusing to her and the last thing I want to do is make her yell MORE. She seems more receptive to my wife's Ke$ha and Katy Perry cds. (My wife likes some hardcore too, but I digress) It gets tougher and tougher to adjust time but it's very important to me to continue playing music and not turning into a boring Dad who "used to" do this and that.
How’s the Tacoma scene? Any great up-and-coming bands who you would recommend for the readers to check out?
Tacoma is cool. For Tacoma, I'm really just concerned with what I do and my friends do. So check out Sojourner, Bookburner, Exit Bag, Fever, The Helm, Negative Press, Criminal Code, Earth Control, and Dethrone.
Do you know what an Arch Vile is?
I don't. I had to look it up, and it appears to be some kind of creature from DOOM.
Thanks for the interview, anything that hasn’t been mentioned or asked, and last words?
Thank you! If anyone wants to get in contact with me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out tunes at http://sidetracked.bandcamp.com and check updates at http://sidetrackedhc.blogspot.com