MUNICIPAL WASTE: The Art of Thrashing

If there’s one band’s success that has forced labels scrambling to sign retro-thrash bands, it’s Richmond, Virginia’s MUNICIPAL WASTE. Taking the best of the worlds of classic punk, hardcore, and thrash, the band add their own attitude and style to create some of the best crossover music in decades. The WASTE‘s new album, The Art of Partying, does just that while continuing where 2005′s excellent Hazardous Mutation left off but with added thrashing fury. APESHIT hung out with vocalist, Tony Foresta and drumgod Dave Witte during one of the stops on their recent tour with SUICIDAL TENDENCIES. What we learned was that despite their comedy-induced image, MUNICIPAL WASTE are dead serious about their music.

APESHIT: How’s the tour with SUICIDAL TENDENCIES going?

Dave: I think it’s going real good. It’s good for us. Everybody on the tour is really nice. The crowds are awesome. They’re supportive. People are showing up for us. There’s definitely a lot of people showing up for SUICIDAL that are hearing us for the first time and are embracing us and getting the picture.

Tony: It’s like the best tour possible for us right now…a West Coast tour with SUICIDAL. A huge fuckin’ opportunity for us. We were really stoked on it.

APESHIT: Did you hang out in Venice with them?

Tony: No, no. I wish. I wish.

APESHIT: It’s a lot safer [there] now than when they started.

Tony: Yeah.

APESHIT: Back then you don’t want to go visit over there. But now it’s alright.

Tony: Our first day off was Thanksgiving so we just hung out at our friend Andy‘s house. The other day off that they had, I guess they went to Venice, and we went and played Phoenix.

APESHIT: The new album is a great follow up to Hazardous Mutation. How do you guys feel about how it turned out from your perspective?

Tony: Thanks! Zeuss [producer] did a bang up job. [Although] we can nitpick it apart just cause it’s our music. All in all, I think it came out pretty well.

Dave: Yeah, Zeuss did really good, and I think it’s a good representation of where we were at at that time.

APESHIT: What gave you the idea to work with him over other producers?

Tony: We heard that he was interested in us. I just pictured a dude named “Zeuss” recording all the HATEBREED albums. Nothing against HATEBREED, Dave and I are huge HATEBREED fans. I just thought it was going to be some straight edge, militant…I just had this weird image in my head that he was going to be kind of difficult for some reason and that we wouldn’t be able to get our ideas across to him. But it was the exact opposite.

Dave: Ironically, he’s a huge fan. And I actually wanted to record with him in the first place. It’s ironic that he came to us.

Tony: Seriously, he’s one of the most down to earth dudes. He comes to our shows. It’s like talking to my brother.

Dave: We’ll do another one with him.

Tony: Definitely.

APESHIT: You just see his name in the credits [of albums] and no one knows anything about him except that he’s got this cool name.

Tony and Dave: [Laughs]

APESHIT: You guys did an awesomely fun and ridiculous video for “Headbanger Face Rip” with the b-movie folks at Troma Studios. How did you guys hook up with Troma?

Tony: I was trying to get them to do a video with us when our first record came out. We just never really [had things] work out. The label (Earache Records) is like, “Who do you want to do your video?”

“Troma.”

[Earache] actually knew somebody so he contacted them to hook it up.

APESHIT: How was the video shoot?

Tony: It was hot! It was the middle of summer in this garage. We were sweatin’ so bad.

Dave: I guess I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve never done anything like that…filming behind a screen playing drums. They kept telling me to do it over and over.

APESHIT: Did they already have an idea planned for the video or did you sit down together and come up with the idea?

Tony: We had a bunch of different ideas, and we just ended up doing a blue screen video. We wanted it to be acting and blowing stuff up, but we’ll just save that for the next time.

APESHIT: Let’s talk about your song-style. It’s straight up and catchy. For a lot of other bands, they’re into four or five-minute songs. Do you find it easier to write shorter, catchier songs? Or is it just something natural for you guys to do?

Tony: I just think that as far as we go, we all have really short attention spans. And I think that’s the audience that we cater to. So it’s easier to get in and get out instead of having something dragging out, playing a two-minute guitar solo.

Dave: Plenty of other people do that and they’re great at it. But that’s not what we’re choosing to do.

APESHIT: As a band, you guys are all crucial pieces to the MUNICIPAL WASTE sound. Did you guys have this kind of chemistry from day one when you guys had this line-up?

Tony: Yeah, I think so.

Dave: Yeah. The first time I jammed with Ryan (guitars), it was right on. After the other guy left and they needed someone, I went and jammed with Ryan not even knowing that I was going to join the band. It just felt real cool.

Tony: Once we got Phil (bass), we had to start writing the album (Hazardous Mutation). We got five songs done, everybody turned around, and we had a new song and I had to keep writing lyrics.

Dave: For me, even for them moreso, it was just different. I didn’t know how it went with the old band.

Tony: It’s a lot smoother now. [Laughs]

APESHIT: Dave, you are one of the most underrated drumgods in extreme music.

Dave: Thanks!

APESHIT: You’ve played in so many great bands (DISCORDANCE AXIS, BURNT BY THE SUN, ANODYNE, MELT-BANANA, EXIT-13, HUMAN REMAINS, etc.), have a great resume and everything. But the press doesn’t give you enough recognition. [Turning to Tony] Is there anything Dave can’t play?

Tony: Ska. He refuses to play ska.

Dave: No, that’s wrong. I’ve actually always wanted to do a ska band and a rockabilly band because both have shitloads of energy, and I’m an energy nut. I love being creative and energetic. But, I have a problem playing salsa. [Otherwise] I’m open to learning and playing anything.

But thanks for your kind words. I appreciate it.

APESHIT: One thing that I thought was funny but also cool when I first got here [to the show] was that all the teenage kids were dressed like it was 1985. It’s like, “Where did they get all that merchandise? I didn’t even have that when I was younger.”

Tony: Yeah.

APESHIT: Does it trip you guys out?

Tony: I love it! When we first started, it was just punks and hardcore kids, and we were the ones with the denim vests on, the four of us. Even metal kids in general weren’t dressing like that back then. I say “back then” like this was a long time ago. This was like six or seven years ago. In January [2008], it’ll be seven years. It’s weird. Kids just didn’t really do that. Now, it’s come back so much that people aren’t embarrassed to be into thrash anymore.

Dave: It’s weird. There’s a big thing in the 80′s that was all like that and then it faded out.

APESHIT: You are credited with not only being a crossover band but bringing back a lot of the old school sounds. As a result of your guy’s success, there are a lot of labels that want similar sounding bands. You know, that’s just the way it goes.

Tony: Yeah.

APESHIT: That becomes just kind of a way for bands to have a gimmick to get a career started. How do you guys feel about?

Tony: I think there are a lot of bands that kind of cheapen it. I hate to badmouth anyone, but I think a lot of bands are influenced by us than bands that they should be [influenced by], like bands from back then. But, there’s also bands that are fucking amazing right now like TOXIC HOLOCAUST. I’m all for a thrash revival and all that, but I just want it to be sincere and not a trend or bandwagon thing because that’s what’s going to ruin it.

Dave: Recently, I’ve come up with this theory that we’ve always done what we’ve wanted to do. And this whole explosion of mimic bands, it’s like any other type of musical scene. A ton of them, most of them suck. But then there’s that one that figures something out. They change, they evolve, and start the next wave.

APESHIT: Does it feel odd to know that for some of the kids that come out to your shows, they might be hearing this style of music for the first time?

Tony: I love that shit.

Dave: I love being able to inspire kids.

Tony: It was the same for me as a kid to go, “What the fuck was that?” I remember when I first saw THE JESUS LIZARD, the singer was a fucking lunatic. I was like, “What is this shit?” I didn’t even know what the fuck…the kind of music and the way he was singing was totally off the wall. That inspiration was huge. I hope we do that.

Dave: It’s always awesome to inspire some one. You up there doing what you love to do and some kid shows up and goes, “I got the message.” It’s an amazing feeling.

APESHIT: Just like the new album title, partying is an art…if you’re experienced and do enough of it. However, surviving the art of partying is another challenge. You guys must have a lot fun going to shows and going out on tour. Do you have any solid tips on dealing with a massive hangover?

Tony: It’s so funny that we wrote a party album, and now we’re all kind of over it [partying]. [Laughs] Being on the so road for so long between that time and now, we don’t really party as much [anymore]. The next record is going to called The Art of Not Partying. [Laughs]

I don’t know…stay hydrated. We drink water all the time.

Dave: The ultimate hangover cure is kombucha tea.

Tony: We’ve toned down the partying.

Dave: We still party once in a while. But it’s hard when you’re out there nine months out of the year. We kind of realized that, “Shit, we need to chill.” [Laughs] I can’t tour like this. If we get fucked up all the time, it’s not healthy.

APESHIT: I read an interview that you guys did for another zine, and they basically tried to portray you as the ultimate partying band…partying this and partying that. It’s like, “They’re musicians too! They don’t just party.”

Dave: A lot of people get caught up in that.

Tony: That whole image, we’re going to try to stray away from that in the future just because it’s like overshadowing what we do, what we care about…which is playing badass thrash songs. We like to have fun too, but I don’t want that to overshadow…I don’t want it to be some fucking cheesy gimmick. Playing this sort of music is really important to us.

APESHIT: Do you guys have any plans to re-release your pre-Earache releases?

Tony: There’s been talks about it but it’s still available. People can still get the first record. It’s fine where it is right now. We might get a reissue somewhere down the line. We’d rather work on a new album than work on some old shit.

APESHIT: Is Earache going to release The Art of Partying with a DVD later?

Tony: I don’t know. They videotaped one of our shows where the footage was shitty. Maybe something down the line. Throw the video on there and some wacky shit.

APESHIT: I like the DVD for Hazardous Mutation, but I wish I could’ve gotten some kind of warning so I wouldn’t have to buy it twice. [The DVD was included in a subsequent special edition re-release.]

Tony: Well, it was kind of good for us cause when it came out, that album didn’t get a lot of press. But it slowly built steam, and they wanted to reissue it so people would hear about it. It just kind of went over a lot of people’s heads so they re-released it to let people know what was going on.

APESHIT: You guys grew up on punk and hardcore. What’s your take on today’s contemporary hardcore scene?

Tony: INEPSY is the shit! It’s seems like there’s a lot more hardcore bands popping up. There’s good bands like A.N.S. and CAUSTIC CHRISTANNIHILATION TIME, we’ve always talk about them for years.

Dave: There’s a small group that I like. Other than that, I don’t really know much about it.

APESHIT: Metalcore is this giant…the meaning isn’t even the same anymore.

Tony: You can ask me questions about punk and hardcore all day, but I don’t know shit about metalcore. [Laughs]

I pay no attention to that bullshit.

APESHIT: I was wondering if you guys read the book or saw the movie, American Hardcore.

Tony: Yeah! We watched it a couple of weeks ago. It’s really cool. That book’s really cool too. I like reading about WHITE CROSS and other bands from Richmond that were fucking awesome. I love learning about shit like that.

APESHIT: It seems like things are going really well for you guys. How do you feel about the way things are going for the band?

Tony: We’re really happy. We’re starting to choose our own battles now, not go out on tour as much, not kill ourselves as much. We put two years in pretty hard. We’re going to take couple months off and go at it again. Bust our ass, just like we always do. We’re work addicts. We’re workaholics. It’s just paying off.

Dave: It’s fun man. Get to see the world. We’re actually out there doing what we love to do.

APESHIT: What’s next for THE WASTE after this tour?

Tony: Vacation! We’ll be at home writing songs on our vacation. [Laughs] Just chillin’ and plan what we’re going to do for the summer.

One thought on “MUNICIPAL WASTE: The Art of Thrashing

  1. Although I’m no expert, in my opinion this is truly great interview. You seriously covered all grounds! One of the most enjoyable (and longest!) I’ve read in a long time. I’m interviewing them, or Tony at least, at the New England Metal and Hardcore festival next weekend, so your interview has definitely helped me think more about where to go with my questions, and what not to ask (so I don’t steal your questions). ;)

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