An interview that The Fallout did with Maximum Rocknroll around the time of the release of the original 2005 version of “What Is Past Is Prologue.”
Note: October 2018 sees the band release a remixed and remastered version of the album, aptly titled “What Is Past Is (Still) Prologue” and it’s available on their Bandcamp page.
Here’s the remixed and remastered version of track 12, “Pie In the Sky.” Written about former Ontario premier Mike Harris and utilizing footage from the October 26, 1996 Days Of Action in Toronto.
With a grand total of three members (Bob, Jeremy and Lord Byron) and about the same number of chords, Toronto’s The Fallout have been slogging it out, DIY-style, in the punk rock trenches for almost a decade now. As they say about themselves in the song “In This Land,” they’re “just another punk rock band” that’s written “some songs, about protecting right and correcting all the wrongs.” They’ve got a new long-player, “What Is Past Is Prologue,” out now on Longshot Music and, like their previous releases, it’s chock-full of up-tempo and up-yours sing-a-long political punk rock. The Fallout is a band with a message and a mission. Here’s what singer/guitarist Lord Byron had to say when I sat down with him recently….
The Fallout is frequently compared, musically and lyrically, to bands like The Clash, The Jam and Stiff Little Fingers, and I’d add Moral Crux to the mix as well…are you comfortable with these comparisons, and would you agree with them?
Definitely! And I’d add Canadian bands like DOA and Youth Youth Youth also. We’re happy to draw attention to the bands that have influenced us over the years. We certainly have some Moral Crux pop tendencies too. You can’t escape being pigeon-holed so I’m not going to argue the point. We’re not some posing artists trying to impress with faux-musicianship with a pile of stomp-boxes claiming to be creating something completely original. We play high energy rock and roll just like the bands we keep getting compared to. We’re just carrying the torch forward.
The Fallout bills itself, quite simply, as a Toronto Punk Rock Band. I know that some of you have been playing the punk rock for well on 20 years now…what’s it mean to you to be a punk rock band in this day and age?
I’ve personally played in various punk and garage bands since the 1980’s. In the late 80’s it was harder to be in a punk band. The scene was much smaller. There were fewer bands and even fewer clubs to play at. After the original punk explosion in the late 70’s there was definitely a period when it was very out of fashion to be into punk. For better or worse, bands like Nirvana and Green Day brought punk into the mainstream and into the shopping malls in the 1990’s. Today it’s easier to get shows and sell CDs. I’m not saying the early years of punk were better, just different. Certainly the very early scenes were much more open, perhaps as a matter of survival, to different genres. Bands today often fall into neatly defined categories that can seem as conservative as the music that punk broke out of in the first place.
What bands, past or present, would best exemplify, musically and lyrically, what The Fallout is all about? Are there any bands out there right now that really inspire you?
Two albums that have always been a big influence are Stiff Little Finger’s “Inflammable Material,” and DOA’s “Something Better Change.” They really drove home the idea about thinking for yourself and doing it yourself. You could write songs about more that just fast cars and girls. You could write about what affects your life like Jake Burns or make a statement about what is important in your community like Joe Keithley. I think, or hope anyways, that we continue to get this out in our music.
Local bands that we’ve played with and feel in tune with are The Class Assassins and Angels Saints And Heroes – two great Canadian bands that deserve more attention.
You clearly put a lot into this band – time, effort, energy, money, etcetera. But what do you get out of it? What keeps you guys doing this night after night. I’m asking because in your song “The Great Disappointment” you seem to be saying that being in a band can take, or has taken, a real toll, in that parents, friends, teachers, etc, have all been less than thrilled with your ‘career’ choice…
“The Great Disappointment” is about having to deal with people in your life that don’t understand the passion you have for being in a punk band. I mean, I wish I understood it myself! It doesn’t make much sense either, but I have to keep doing it. It’s about dealing with people who think that being in a band is a ‘phase’ you’re going through. From my perspective, school and work are ‘phases’ I’m going through while being in a band.
After many years with no apparent commercial success, people in your life expect that you will give up your burning musical ambitions and move on to something more ‘productive.’ They just don’t get it and I’m tired of always having to explain myself. You see, everyone who is critical thinks they mean well. But, really, they’ve given up on their dreams; they’ve lost their passion. They can’t deal with anyone who hasn’t lost their youthful idealism. So it’s our little love song for the nay-sayers throughout our lives.
Why the steadfast insistence on D.I.Y., and, as MRR asked some labels/bands in a previous issue, what does D.I.Y mean to you?’
D.I.Y is not waiting for the right time, place or circumstances to come along and take care of you. D.I.Y is making your ambitions happen right here, right now. We have no illusions about major label contracts. We don’t want to make compromises on what we write and produce. In this day and age there is no reason you can’t build your own following with the resources available to anyone. Labels like Dischord and BYO are great examples of how D.I.Y continues to be a viable option. We’re very happy with our relationship with Mike at Longshot Music to get our music on our terms. Hopefully we can inspire others to find ways to get their music out there without compromise.
Yeah, your last couple of releases have been put out by Longshot Music but you’ve also released stuff on your own Red Menace record label. Do you plan on continuing to release stuff on Red Menace, your own music or anybody else’s?
For this year we are quite busy releasing a new CD right on the heels of the last one. We’ve begun to work on the new full length too. We have a new video and hope to do another one this year. So we aren’t able to focus on Red Menace or other projects at the moment. We are trying to expand our recording studio so that we can bring in other bands. We would love to partner with other bands/labels that want to work towards promoting the wealth of great bands in Southern Ontario. So if any like-minded folks are listening…
In the song “Talkin’ Punk Rock Civil War’ you seem to be taking punks and punk rock to task – you sing “No I don’t think you understand what we’re fighting for, Our music, poetry and politics don’t lead to a cure, We need more than talkin’ punk rock civil war.” What’s this all about then?
A lot of punk is about making changes. Songs about political action and anarchy. But getting wasted at the Warped Tour isn’t going to bring about the revolution anytime soon. Chant-along working class hymns don’t create change. At most we’re bringing awareness to social issues. So this song is hopefully encouraging folks to get out there, get involved in their communities and start making the kinds of changes punk rockers are always singing about. Real changes are being made by real people everyday at union halls, the United Way, Canadian Blood Services, the Daily Bread Food Bank. The jocks who think it’s cool to slam the hardest on the dance floor just don’t get it, that’s not revolution.
The song is written in talkin’ blues style like the old folk singers because Bob Dylan, the icon of all protest singers, is just as guilty of a lot of talk but little action. And The Fallout are no different either. We’re busy making music, booking shows and recording while trying not to go broke. We’ve played a lot of benefit shows, we’ve attended various protests, but have we affected any real change? It’s not about being cynical, but being honest about what it really means to be a punk.
So, as a band you’re trying to shine some light on social issues that you find important. Are there any issues in particular that The Fallout is passionate about or that you try and highlight? Either in your music or you lives in general?
We’re definitely a band trying to bring awareness of social issues and injustice. We touch on the usual suspects like racism in “Bigots And Bastards” and poverty on “In The Gutter.” We express frustration towards apathy in “War Without End” and “Heart Of The City.” We are vegetarians and are trying to create awareness of animal advocacy. New songs like “Meat Market” express the cruelty of factory farming. We aren’t saying that you should feel guilty just because you eat meat. We want people to know that the market pressures to have low price animal products produces a lot of suffering. I think most non-vegetarians would agree that a cow is an animal, just like their dog or cat. It seems rational to protect a cow from suffering, by eliminating factory farming practices, just as we protect dogs and cats from cruelty.
We also try to focus on issues that are Canadian. Songs like “Tin Canners” remind us that he have a history of social errors. New songs like “Leaving Ontario,” which focuses on migrant workers, suggest that we still have work to do. As much as we can, we deal with issues that we can actually act on in our communities. International issues are important, but it’s just too easy to point out someone else’s mistakes while ignoring our own.
So what’s the future hold for The Fallout?
We’ve got a brand new CD of some old obscure Canadian covers called “The Turning Point” on Longshot Music. A video has just been completed by Aldo of FUTV fame for the song “In The Gutter,” and it looks great. We are currently recording new songs for another full-length CD for later this year as well as some tracks for other projects. So we are busy as always. We’re trying to work out a tour for this year, but still haven’t finalized any dates as yet.
The CD of Canadian punk covers sounds great. I noticed that you’re covering some better known bands (Youth Youth Youth and The Viletones) as well as some I’m personally not familiar with (The Allies, The Red Squares)..any particular reason for picking the bands that you did?
I’d really like to say it was well thought out, but…truth is it pretty much was arbitrary choices based on what can be found in my somewhat limited collection of Canadian singles and tapes. It struck me how many great Canadian bands are now all but forgotten. If a CD reissue doesn’t exist then it’s very hard for new, younger punk fans to become aware of their roots. The Young Lions were probably one of the best and very little good quality recording exists. Their one vinyl record “Welcome To The Freak Show” doesn’t show them in their prime. These guys were every bit as good as The Clash, with definitely a lot more edge and energy. Youth Youth Youth were the cornerstone of the early hardcore scene in Toronto. They had their own fanzine and were politically active.
But the early scene was also much more diverse. Any independent record was suspect back then, it just wasn’t as common as today. The Red Squares were more of a quirky, arty band, but a song like “Transmitter” had a lot of energy. The notorious Viletones were very much a basic rock and roll band. So we tried to reflect the broader, independent music styles.