Enjoy a new exclusive interview with No Sir vocalist Michael Bingham as he and his fellow purveyors of blistering hardcore punk prepare to release a debut album, The Future Is Bright, on Twelve Gauge Records. Fusing a hearty concoction of raw punk riffage reminiscent of CA mainstays Look Back And Laugh and Talk Is Poison with elements driving rock and no shortage of angst, No Sir have delivered one of the most exciting hardcore punk records in recent memory. In this in-depth, exclusive interview, Bingham takes us behind the scenes into No Sir‘s world of writing, recording, lyric crafting, politics, and influences. Bingham also shares insight into the working relationship with renowned engineer Jack Shirley (Comadre), who recorded and engineered the band’s latest body of work.
Be sure to check out the music video No Sir track “C.A.L.I.F.O.R.N.I.A.” below the fold.
Without further ado, let’s hear from Michael!
Joshua BTS: Greetings and thank you for taking a few minutes with Blow The Scene readers from around the world. We’ll get this puppy rolling by having you introduce yourself and musical weapon of choice with Santa Rosa, California’s raw, hardcore punk rock ensemble, No Sir.
Michael Bingham: Hi. Thanks for taking an interest. My name is Michael Bingham and I sing for the band NO SIR.
Joshua BTS: Twelve Gauge Records will be releasing your debut album, The Future Is Bright, August 13th as a limited edition, 12” vinyl LP and digital download. The album is a definite ripper from start to finish. Lots of great influences pulled into a refreshing new spin on hardcore punk.
When did the writing process begin for this record? And what does that process look like for No Sir? Do you all contribute or this a captain of the ship that steers the prevailing direction?
Michael Bingham: Thank you. Appreciate the kind words. We started writing this record in the spring of last year I believe… We practice in a small room filled with random cables and trash on the floor in a strange little area on the outskirts of Santa Rosa, CA.
Although I’m probably the wrong person to ask about the musical process as I was only present for about half (if that) of the writing sessions I think the process for NO SIR is easy. We don’t pick each other apart and we don’t over-think the songs. I believe there was only one song that was written that wasn’t used in the whole process. There’s no point in over-analyzing things between like minded friends.
I think that if we we’re forced to pick a “captain” it would be Ian (guitar) by default. Hes a very talented guitar player who is good at composing large movements… but to be completely honest there’s no captain. Everyone contributed and everyone’s voice was just as valid as the next person.
Joshua BTS: I understand you worked with Jack Shirley (Comadre) for the recording of The Future Is Bright. What does the recording process look like with Jack? Do you all track together live? And do you implement a metronome into your tracking methods?
Michael Bingham: Jack Shirley is a wonderful person to work with and has a perfect ear for punk music (and tons of other music for that matter…). The process was organic. We recorded live over the course of four days and tracked everything together other than vocals. It was quick and painless. We did not use a metronome for anything.
Joshua BTS: Jack has a great knack for capturing raw, but fantastically huge sounding records. Your latest LP being no exception. I know you all have experience in various other CA-based projects- Anything about this process that saw you step out of your comfort zone and try new approaches in the studio setting?
Michael Bingham: This was the first time for me I have ever recorded a full-lengths worth of material as a vocalist and I didn’t realize how much of a project it would be to write that much material… so that for me was fun. I know Jason and Cody had recorded live with their other band SABERTOOTH ZOMBIE a bunch of times and our previous 7″ was recorded live as well….but I think anytime you step into a new studio and record with someone you’ve never worked with you’ll always run into new ways of going about things.
I specifically remember while recording someone turned to Jack after a take and asked him “Hey did that sound good?” and he replied very frankly by saying “I dont know….do YOU think that sounded good? Its not my record” and that was something I’d never seen before. Most engineer’s will have an opinion on something if you ask them but Jack forced us to be our own judge (if something was really bad he spoke up) of the material and really look at it without being lazy. That was strange but it made us work harder and critique ourselves.
Joshua BTS: What are some of the lyrical motifs listeners will find on this record? And where did you find your lyrical inspirations for this set of tracks?
Michael Bingham: The lyrics are very personal for me. I was dealing with the loss of friends and the coming to terms with a capitalist-consumer life that surrounds me.
As far as inspiration goes; I turned wherever seemed natural. I have a very talented group of friends who all live in my area and its nice to be able to turn to their work and use it as inspiration. Scott Phillips who sings for my other band CREATIVE ADULT is one of the most talented lyricists I know; and Cody who plays bass in NO SIR is also the vocalist for SABERTOOTH ZOMBIE and THE VIBRATING ANTENNAS. Ross who plays in CEREMONY is also a good friend so I have a good group of individuals who drive me and push me. When you turn to your left and see fantastic art, and you turn to your right and see more of it, it makes you work harder and try to push yourself to create something that is truly honest, sincere and well thought out.
I also take note from any literature that comes through my line of vision. I essentially just try and take note from anyone and anything I see that I see is valid.
Joshua BTS: Apart from the musical influences that seep into the mix ranging from Look Back and Laugh to Wire– You also draw from Camus, Lynch and others. Can you shed some light on how these influences have manifested themselves on this current release?
Michael Bingham: Absolutely. I think most of us as artists are constantly seeking out new forms of inspiration weather that be visual or audio aesthetic and I think that we all try to take note from that. No barriers no boundaries. Create without constraint. This record was conceived naturally and without an agenda the same way the artists before us have created. When Camus wrote, he wrote about what he felt and he worded himself accordingly and I think; perfectly… that inspires me. I actually sang on this record (opposed to screaming) at some points because I felt it was needed to help express the feeling and emotion of the music that was created… not because I wanted “to have singing parts on the record”. It was natural and honest. Art is supposed to be natural and honest. Not a schtick or a gimmick.
Joshua BTS: California has seen no shortage of inspiring bands throughout the vast spectrum of hardcore and punk music history. What bands currently have your ear these days and why?
Michael Bingham: Theres so many…. GEHENNA are still ripping it up. LOMA PRIETA is one of the hardest working bands I’ve ever come into contact with. NERVOUS is about to put out a record thats going to freak people out. THE VIBRATING ANTENNAS just finished their full length and its fantastic. THE DOWN HOUSE is about to play their first show and from what I heard I think its going to be something people need to be watching out for. PUNCH rules. STATE FAULTS and STRIKE TO SURVIVE are out crushing the US right now working hard. The new NAILS record is amazing. CEREMONY is writing a new LP right now that I’m sure is going to be fantastic. I recently saw the artwork for the new TOUCHE AMORE record and I’m excited to hear that. I could go on forever….
Joshua BTS: Many of the bands in your list of influences LBAL, Talk Is Poison– Have a definite political awareness/commentary about their recorded efforts and aesthetic. Do you allow your politics as a band or individuals to shine through in the music? Any current movements or political issues that have your focus?
Michael Bingham: Well…I think that LBAL/TIP and the rest of those bands were definitely motivated in that area from the start and I use that as an inspiration. I do not think its cool to be nihilistic and wreck-less or project yourself to others as hopeless and lost. I am trying to find meaning.
I think it became a trend to act like you don’t care about the world and that everything was hopeless and what-not…..but thats a crutch. Its oppressive to use your lazy-ness as a crutch to put down other peoples hard work. I want people to know it’s ok to speak up and be vocal about things. I want THAT to be cool.
Being the singer of this band, its my job to be the literal voice of NO SIR. So that being said; I want my voice to be well intentioned. I wouldn’t say that we are as politically minded as those bands but the inspiration is definitely drawn. Use your voice for something. Be loud about your activism. Make people feel uncomfortable. Don’t let people make you feel like you’re being “PC” if you care about something important. Thats some oppressive bullshit. Smash that and be a punk. Care about something and stick your middle finger in someones face.
Joshua BTS: Who crafted the cover art for The Future Is Bright and what, in any, significance does it have with the lyrical and musical motifs set forth within?
Michael Bingham: Cody Sullivan (Bass) made the artwork. I think we wanted to continue with the same theme of the 7″ and have it collage based. As of this very moment I couldnt speak on his artistic relation to the music though….thats something I think he would have to answer and he’s not with me at the moment.
Joshua BTS: For those that are just tuning in- How did you land on the name ‘No Sir’?
Michael Bingham: Cody chose it. It’s a reference from the CRASS record YES SIR I WILL.
Joshua BTS: How did you come to link up with Twelve Gauge Records for this current LP?
Michael Bingham: We’ve been friends with Jihad for years. We released our 7″ on his other label FAMILY DRUGS a year and a half ago and I think releasing this LP with his more established label was a logical choice. He’s also released I think every SABERTOOTH ZOMBIE record… so the connection has been there. He’s a pleasure to work with to say the least. One of the most motivated individuals I’ve met. Its always great to work to release a record with someone who cares about your band as much as you do. I think there’s something to be said for that.
Joshua BTS: When you are not busy writing and recording- What do your daily lives in CA look like?
Michael Bingham: We all play in other bands. Casey and his writing partner/girlfriend Sarah play in a band called THE DOWN HOUSE. Cody plays in SABERTOOTH ZOMBIE and THE VIBRATING ANTENNAS who just finished their full length as I mentioned before. Jason is a full time mechanic and also plays in SABEROOTH ZOMBIE. Ian plays in a fantastic post-rock/shoe-gaze band called NOT TO REASON WHY and composes other musical works. I play in CREATIVE ADULT and were about to fly to montreal to record an LP in a couple weeks. Some of us go to school etc etc. We try to keep as busy as possible with other projects when not doing shows with NO SIR.
Joshua BTS: What does No Sir have coming down the pipeline in 2013?
Michael Bingham: Were going to play a bunch of shows. Playing at The Fest in Gainesville in october. Things are going to be picking up in the fall it looks like…
Joshua BTS: Thank you for taking a few minutes with Blow The Scene readers from around the world. Any final thoughts as we check off?
Michael Bingham: Yes. Thank you for asking questions that are related to our band and well informed. This was a very well thought out interview and I appreciate that.