We recently caught up with One Win Choice founding member and vocalist Dan Kloza, as the band prepares to release their latest full-length, Conveyor, on March 1. One Win Choice has built a steady following of fans throughout the East Coast and in recent years, the world around with consistent touring both in the US and abroad. OWC play a fast-paced style of melodic-punk that is defined by energy and passion, much like fore-bearers Strike Anywhere and Boy Sets Fire, who had equal passion and drive for music and political focuses. Make no mistake, OWC is not simply carrying the torch for said bands, they have spent many years defining their craft and with each new release they continue to develop a niche of melodic hardcore-punk that is all their own. One Win Choice continue to win over new fans and friends with an insatiable drive to push their music and message to new heights. 2011 is shaping up to be another big year for this 5-piece outfit as they have plans to make another run through several European countries, rad shows planned for the US and Canada, no shortage of vegetarian foods and craft beers, and a new album dropping in less than a week. Without further ado, let’s hear from Mr. Kloza;
Joshua BTS: Greetings! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions for Blow The Scene readers around the world! Let’s begin by having you introduce yourself and declare your onstage weapon of choice with Jersey’s own punk rock heroes One Win Choice.
Dan Kloza: Hey! This is Dan and I guess mine would be lungs (breathing), throat (yelling), and liver (alcohol filtration).
Joshua BTS: One Win Choice has a new record coming out March 1 entitled Conveyor. Can you give us the 411 on the record? When, where, and whom did you record with? What is the significance of the album title?
Dan Kloza: The recording process was actually really rad this time around. We started tracking the album last summer. We spent about half of our time at Skylight Studio with Vince Ratti and we spent the other half at our old house in Toms River, NJ. With Vince, we tracked the drums and then came back at the end of the process to do all the vocals and mixing for the record. In between our sessions at Skylight, we recorded the guitars and bass ourselves. Working on a good portion of the record on our own really helped us to flesh out some different ideas that may not have happened otherwise. It also helped to have Vince rap everything up for us since he is a really talented engineer. He really made the record come together and definitely pushed the boundaries for us. Without a doubt it is our most cohesive and solid effort as a band to date.
The title of the record, in its most basic form, would be that the music and words put into the album are a vehicle for the listener. Whether it be the political ideals we are espousing in some of the songs, or the emotions and feelings we felt when thousands of miles from home on tour, the record is trying to express these stories and ideas as honestly as we can.
Joshua BTS: We understand One Win Choice has undergone some line-up changes over the past few years. How has this affected the writing process? And can you bring us up to speed on the current line-up?
Dan Kloza: The current lineup consists of Justin Stevenson, Justin Phillips, Dave Aon, Pete Pieczynski, and myself. Dave and Pete are the newest members of the band. This is Dave’s first full length record with us, although he has toured extensively with us, and Pete just recently joined, after the recording of Conveyor.
The writing process has basically stayed the same throughout the years with our band. Normally stemming from an outline of the entire song, we would all attack, hone, and polish all the parts up until we are all happy with it. On this record especially, we collaborated even more than we have in the past. The addition of Dave into the band also gave us a completely different playing style, not only on bass, but helping to flesh out guitar parts as well.
Joshua BTS: One Win Choice are known as much for their political themes as their driving punk rock music and energetic live shows. What were some of the lyrical themes you touched on for Conveyor? Any themes that see you testing new waters and leaving the comfort zone?
Dan Kloza: The lyrics on this record explore a range of topics. To list a few, the rigors of playing in a touring band (economic strain, doubts, self examination, and inspiration behind it all), xenophobia, racism/sexism, homophobia, capitalism and the economic structures of our country, the folly of patriotism, among a handful of others.
On Conveyor we definitely varied the themes more-so than any release in the past. However, I feel there is an overarching theme behind the songs that hearkens to the notions of questioning all that surrounds us and, more pointedly on some of the tracks, examining ourselves as a band, the motivation behind it, and talking about experiences that an array of people can relate to. The lyrics here are definitely more personal than ever before, going beyond just opinions and observations about the world around us, and really entering a realm of how we fit into the pictures as well.
Joshua BTS: One Win Choice recently re-located to our neck of the woods in Philly! Good choice! What brought about the decision to relocate from the Jersey Shore? How is the city of brotherly love treating OWC thus far?
Dan Kloza: We were kicking around the idea of moving to Philadelphia almost two years ago now. We had been a band from a relatively minor New Jersey town for quite a long time, but had spent an extensive amount of time on the road. Most of the time on tour we were primarily playing larger cities with active and motivated music communities, which we found to be truly awesome, especially since we were on tour. Justin was the first to mention moving to Philly as a band and had brought up the point that being located in a place with a more active scene would not only motivate us as a band, but would be inspiring, beneficial, and fun to be a part of it. Since we had played Philadelphia often in the last few years, made a bunch of friends here, and being only an hour and a half from our hometown, it made perfect sense for us.
Since we’ve lived in the city, we’ve played some really awesome shows, have been to a ton of new spots, and met really energized people who are building and doing great things for punk, hardcore, and independent music in general. We’ve also had a couple of shows at our house, which was awesome to do something new after doing shows at our house in Toms River.
Joshua BTS: With such a large corpus of politically charged lyrics, I am interested to know, what are some current issues that have your attention? Any grassroots organizations or charities you think more people should be paying attention to right now?
Dan Kloza: With the addition of Pete to the band, he has officially made One Win Choice an all-vegetarian/vegan band. Over the past few years, we’ve all given up meat and ultimately taken the most basic step you can to end animal cruelty and promote environmental sustainability. This is definitely an issue that is close to us and we find ourselves often discussing it at length with friends / when we’re on tour / etc.
Joshua BTS: What do your tour plans look like for 2011? Any new spots on the map you are looking to conquer?
Dan Kloza: We are doing a bunch of cool stuff to kickoff 2011. In March, we are kicking the release of Conveyor with a couple of weekend outings, one being with Bridge and Tunnel. In April, we are crossing the pond for 30 days and traveling the entirety of Europe with our best buds Astpai, from Austria. In May, we’ll be heading north into Canada for a couple shows, one of which is the Pouzza Punk Fest happening in Montreal.
Dan Kloza: Our playlists are all over the place these days. Not to be too redundant, but Astpai’s newest full length, Heart to Grow has been a mainstay in my stereo for the past six months. Also, The Thermals, definitely listen to that band. Justin has really been jamming out to 90’s rock and the last decade’s worth of indie/emo for the past couple months, including but not limited to Pavement, Superchunk, Frightened Rabbit, the Promise Ring, etc. No one can really keep up with Dave Aon’s iPod of awesomeness.
Joshua BTS: The artwork for Conveyor is super rad. Who created the art and what is the significance of the visual theme?
Dan Kloza: Our buddy Craig Horky illustrated the artwork for the record. You can check out some of his other stuff at Craighorky.tumblr.com.
The idea behind the art was really modeled after the first lyric on the record, “Reconnect the Disconnect.” The visual representations of disconnection of the human senses are really being compared to our disconnection and ignorance of some of the things we’re trying to bring forward on the record. I think Craig really fleshed out the concept super well and we’re all stoked on it.
He also did the artwork for the 7” split that Bermuda Mohawk just released with our friends Natural Disasters from Michigan. Check that out here.
Joshua BTS: We always love to hear about whacky tour stories and odd habits on the road. OWC spends a significant amount of time touring each year, so we’re hoping you’ve got some raunchy details for us! Please no holding back! If Justin is in the back of the van on the road capturing farts in a jar and huffin’ them, we need to know about it! [laughing]
Dan Kloza: Last tour we played in Jacksonville, FL and the bartender turned down our amps during a song, nearly kicked us offstage, and told us then to turn back up for our last song. Then, attendees started an illegal bonfire, couples were fighting, people shooting off fireworks at a neighbor’s house, cops were called, and we were questioned by the bar owned for involvement in the disturbance. All the while, the person we were supposed to stay with didn’t know where he lived, or his address, telling us to meet him at a McDonald’s some blocks away. Needless to say, we slept in a rest area that night.
Odd habits are too numerous to count. We usually have an extra spot in the van when we go out, so come along and find out the good, bad, and ugly in person!
Joshua BTS: One Win Choice has been active now for around a decade if I’m not mistaken. That’s quite a run for any band of any genre! What is your secret to the band’s longevity? And how has the “scene” changed since when you first started playing in the early 2000s?
Dan Kloza: We haven’t quite been jamming together yet for a decade, and certainly we wouldn’t classify our early days as being an active band! However, since we did a split record with friends Heartfelt Discord in 2005, we have been steadily doing a lot more touring every year, playing more shows, and writing more songs that we are truly stoked on and proud of.
As far as longevity is concerned, we have been lucky in the fact that we are all motivated not only on the music that we’re playing, but on the prospects of traveling, playing across the country/world, and delivering the ideas that are on our records in a live and personal setting. I feel that is really the key for a band to keep moving forward; to be amped on playing new places, venues, and meeting new people along the way.
In regards to how the scene has changed, I don’t feel that things ever get drastically different in independent music communities; they really just evolve. People come and go, and motivations go through real ebb and flow over the years. When we first started, I feel like we were to young to really understand how anything operated. But now after touring for years, playing hundreds of shows, and booking a lot of shows for other bands, we have really been influenced so much and grown up into the ethics of being a part of a scene that promotes positivity, honesty, creativity, and acceptance. So in that sense, I don’t think much has changed. There have always been friends putting on shows for friends, letting them crash on their floors, cooking them food, introducing them to new people, etc. We just happen to be able to do that for others now!
Joshua BTS: Favorite Movie from the 80s?
Dan Kloza: I would say The Shining. Justin would definitely say Back to the Future.
Joshua BTS: Favorite guilty pleasure on the form of reality TV or sitcom?
Dan Kloza: Some of us (and our significant others) have been known to watch Jersey Shore. It is fun to watch assholes roam the haunts of your hometown and treat the place you grew up like shit. Gives you a fresh perspective!
Joshua BTS: The worst and best thing about growing up on the Jersey Shore?
Dan Kloza: Seasons! A solid summer, fall, winter, and spring. To be honest, growing up in New Jersey was sweet. Great bands always came to New Jersey and we lived an hour and a half from Philadelphia and New York City; pretty fucking sweet access to awesome shit.
Worst aspect is probably the numbskulls who populate the coastline in the summer months. However, they do make for decent TV entertainment, as previously stated.
Joshua BTS: We’d like to thank you kindly for taking time with Blow The Scene today! We look forward to keeping up with your future endeavors and wish you the best of luck with your forthcoming album! Any final thoughts or shout-outs?
Dan Kloza: In the words of The Hold Steady, “We gotta stay positive!”
Top Band Group Photo by Jessica Flynn. Live shot by Joe Lifrieri.
Stream the opening track “Movements” off of One Win Choice‘s forthcoming album Conveyor.
One Win Choice – Movements One Win Choice – “Movements”
Pre-Order Conveyor and get Free Poster and Button at: Interpunk
Check out more part II and III at PunkNews.org