Sick Of It All – Across The Ocean

Sick Of It All

Sick Of It All are joining forces with Refused making one formidable combination for an Australian tour this January. Sick Of It All are no strangers to Australia with a diehard following who no doubt will be looking forward to helping the band commemorate their thirtieth anniversary. Across The Ocean had the opportunity to talk to Lou Koller ahead of the tour.

Having both Refused and Sick Of It All on the bill is great?

Yeah, it’s a fun one!

How far back does the relationship go with those guys?

We knew them before they were a band, they travelled down, I forget the name of their home town, to Gothenburg to see us play once and we just met them at the show. We talked to them, they were just young kids and they asked us if we would consider playing somewhere else in Sweden. It was like yeah, sure! I think it was a year later, maybe less, they asked our booking agent to book us in their hometown and we went and we played. I’m not sure if Refused opened up for us on that show or a different one but that is when we first met them way back when.

Is there a friendly rivalry of sorts?

No, it’s admiration not rivalry so much. I remember whenever we play with them though it would be more like pushing each other. They would open up for us back in the day and they were so young and energetic it was like these kids are going to make us look bad if we don’t give it our all. We would go out every night and give it our all. That’s what it was like and again when they wrote their seminal album Shape Of Punk To Come when we first heard it we were blow away and these guys are going to be huge but then things went a different route at that point and we couldn’t understand why. Everything worked out in the end.

Congratulations on thirty years as a band. Obviously there is something that works that kept the band going for so long. What would you say to a band that is going through a tough stretch?

With us it has always been checking your egos and there has to be compromise. Sometimes everybody has to be onboard with that, if not then there will always be one guy that is always taking advantage of that and never compromise while everyone else is like well to keep the band together I’ll do what you want. If has never been like that for Sick Of It All. We have had tonnes of heated arguments from the littlest things to big things whatever. You have keep your egos down.

Can you believe thirty years have whizzed past?

No, it’s funny! Everyone tells us you look so young but then you look at pictures then it’s like shit we’re old now. Too us especially now the past few years we play even harder than we did when we were younger and to prove to everyone we’re still one of the top live acts to go and see and also prove to ourselves that we are still in shape to do it.

Being more wiser and more mature do you think you appreciate it more?

Yeah, we definitely appreciate it more. It is not like we took it for granted when we were younger but we were expecting to just go out and just play like crazy every night. As you get older, of course your body slows down, we take care of ourselves now so that we can still do what we love to do.

How did you celebrate the thirty year anniversary? A Cake? The Book?

The book was released last year and I don’t know if it has made it all the way down to Australia. It is a photo book with a ten inch EP in it. There is only four thousand made and there are certain colours. I know there is a hundred gold records made, one hundred clear records made and the rest are split between black and red. As far as us we did a lot of touring and did a lot of cakes in Germany. People made us cakes in Belgium, in Hong Kong, it was amazing!

Celebrating we had a big show in New York City in July at Club Webster Hall. It was us, The Street Dogs from Boston, Murphy’s Law from New York and good friends of ours from Hong Kong called King Ly Chee and we took them on their first US shows. We ended with a big party in New York City and to close out the year we did three small clubs in New York. There was one in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn our birth place of the band. We played these tiny clubs and played just the first three records which was great. It was fun and big thank you to our old school New York fans who have been with us since the beginning.

How was it going through the book and going through piles and piles of photos?

It was fun and I wish we had more of the earlier stuff and a lot of the photographers who had photos we contacted but didn’t get back in time or never got back. There’s a lot of photos I don’t even remember or didn’t know were taken. We played an outdoor show in the Bronx next to Yankee Stadium which is unheard of with a hardcore band playing the Bronx. They had Salsa music, hip-hop live there but we were the first punk band and there was twelve hundred at that. It was amazing and I didn’t know anyone who had such great photos and there’s some of those in there. We all laugh at the pictures of us from the mid nineties where I had Johnny Depp like funny hair.

Was the EP written specifically for this?

We had two songs left over from The Last Act Of Defiance but when we started to go to record the five we wanted to write in time for the book we didn’t even touch those until we wrote fresh material. Peter had a bunch of songs and so did Armand and it flowed really well and we felt so good about them it was like let’s not touch the stuff that was left over, let’s just keep moving forwards.

How do you cram thirty years in to a forty five to sixty minute set list?

We were just talking about that yesterday about over the years when we went to Australia we always played certain numbers from our first two albums and it is like let’s switch them out this time and see what happens. Of course we want to lean more to the newer material so we’ll see what happens. We always end up doing a really good mix and famous for cramming a lot of stuff in to whatever time we are allotted. Not taking anything away from any of the other cities but Adelaide was my favourite show on the last tour when we headlined, not just the show but the whole time in Adelaide was a lot of fun for me.

Rob Lyon

Rob Lyon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Lyon has been writing about all things music for well over ten years in Adelaide clocking up more live shows each year seeing the best going round.

Whether it is rummaging through vinyl at record stores such as Clarity and Title finding hidden gems to scouring the internet to find that album by the next big thing or chasing bands to get that elusive autograph and photo his passion is music all the way.
Rob Lyon

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