LA’s Legendary Native American crust punk warriors, Resistant Culture were kind enough to get together to answer a slew of in-depth questions for Blow The Scene readers around the world. Having formed in the mid 80s under the name Resistant Militia, the band combines elements of tribal music, including indigenous flutes and chants, melding them with a brutal, grind-influenced, d-beat and crust foundation. Having seen a laundry list of musicians come and go, founding member Anthony Rezhawk, has remained steady at the helm. The band received an increased amount of press attention when Jesse Pintado (TERRORIZER/NAPALM DEATH) joined Resistant Culture in 2004 and contributed to the group’s writing process and live performances for over two years until his untimely death in August of 2006. Otherwise, the band’s current line-up has been consistent since 2003, as drummer Ben Axiom was added to the roster to join classically trained guitarist, Katina (whose guitar work is featured on Terrorizer’s latest effort) and long-time bassist Rafa. The band’s approach to these interview questions were very appropriate for a collective of individuals who enjoy recording and working at their own pace and on their own terms without ever sacrificing thoroughness. Where as most interviewees wish to accredited individually, Resistant Culture have chose answer these questions true-to-form, as a collective. We are very pleased to bring you this in-depth Resistant Culture interview where the band discusses their unique approach of incorporating indigenous Native American instruments with extreme music, the band’s writing processes, favorite spots to grab a bite on tour, equipment picks, and much more! Enjoy!
Joshua BTS: Greetings! Thank you kindly for taking some time with Blow The Scene readers around the world today! Let’s kick-off by having you introduce yourselves and declare your on-stage weapon of choice with California’s tribal grind and d-beat phenomenon, Resistant Culture.
Thanks for the interview! Here’s the line-up:
Wolf (aka Anthony Rezhawk): vocals, gourds, flutes, tribal drums
Joshua BTS:Resistant Culture has been hard at work on a forthcoming full-length entitled, Sacred Hall of Mirrors. How far along with the writing and recording process are you with this record? Share with us what the writing process looks like for Resistant Culture. IS there one person who steers the ship or is a culmination of a general flow of ideas from all involved? And where and whom are you recording with?
Resistant Culture: The writing process is done, we’re now doing the final tracking and getting ready for mixing and mastering.
Our song writing process is collaborative. As individuals we bring ideas to the table then we brew the rest of the elements together and develop each song as a collective.
We record ourselves in our own studio (Wolf’s Den Studio). Recording ourselves gives us the opportunity to take the time necessary to complete our recordings at our own pace and work on them until we are completely satisfied with the outcome. This way we can focus on the creative process rather than worrying about going over budget.
Joshua BTS: What can long-time fans expect from this forthcoming album? Has the overall sound undergone any drastic changes?
Resistant Culture: Sacred Hall of Mirrors is more mystical and prophetic conceptually than the previous two albums which were more straight forward in terms of radical political calls to action.
Musically, It’s a mix of raw punk/crust/grind intensity and more refined black/death metal/tribal orchestration. It’s not drastically different, but rather a natural flowing evolution of our thoughts, emotions, and musical visions. It’s definitely our best work in our opinion and feel that it will be embraced and deeply appreciated by our fans.
Joshua BTS: There are many aspects of Resistant Culture that are a refreshing break from the daily homogeneity of the music scene, which is nothing short of awesome. From the lyrical focuses on timely politics, to your roots in indigenous Native American culture, to the having a coed lineup.. Resistant Culture is one of the few bands, that in my opinion, truly follows the ideals discussed in the lyrics without skimping on talent or delivery. How much emphasis is put on maintaining the ideals expressed in your music? IE Are you highly selective about how you print merch- do you avoid name brands who may be using sweatshop labor? Are you highly selective about the bands you perform with and so on? And is it even possible to exist as a band these days without perpetuating the very ills of a system punk culture is often at odds with lyrically?
Resistant Culture: Thanks for acknowledging our efforts to bring diverse positive perspectives into the extreme music scene. We just try to speak from our hearts and raise awareness about a wide-array of issues without pointing fingers or promoting an ideological platform that is elitist or exclusionary. Many social movements have failed because they’re too dogmatic and puritanical and often end up alienating people rather than welcoming them to the cause.
There’s no one righteous path, and there’s no way to be pure of contradiction and compromise. As far as our buying practices, we try to be green and support diy independent operations as much as possible, however, we don’t have a strict policy on materials as we’re not yet in a position financially to buy goods at a premium. As we grow as a band, we hope to have the means to be more selective and be continuously moving towards a more sustainable and equitable operation.
As far as the bands we play with, we avoid bigotted bands and prefer to play with bands who value positivity, consciousness, respect for people,animals, and the earth, and speak from their heart about real issues whether personal or beyond.
Joshua BTS: Do you feel that music has been an effective means to get your message across? What other aspects of your lives do you dedicate to political and social issues?
Resistant Culture: Yes, music has been a powerful medium to transmit our messages and ideas.
We try to walk our talk as a band by supporting causes via direct donations, benefit concerts, and organizing cultural events. At SeventhGenerationRecords.com we sell our MP3 album downloads for $5 and donate 20% of the proceeds to various progressive charitable organizations.
In our personal lives we’re involved in many projects and organizations ranging from indigenous cultural preservation, animal rescue / welfare (primarily raising awareness and rescuing pit bulls and other high risk dogs at local high kill shelters), community gardening, youth outreach, health and wellness programs, and etc.
Joshua BTS: Any movements or specific grass roots organizations you think more people should be paying attention to?
Resistant Culture: We encourage people to connect with community organizations that are working to make positive change at the local level. That’s where we can all have the greatest impact as individuals volunteering our time. For those who are in a position to donate funds to national and international causes, we recommend that people search their souls and hearts to discover what issues concern and affect them the most.
Our preferences in general are for movements and organizations that work on behalf of people, animals, and the earth and who’s objectives are more holistic than “single issue”. In other words, the process of healing the wounds inflicted by the industrial system involves more than just changing a law, or electing an official. It requires a paradigm shift that educates and empowers people to reconnect them with traditional culture and the ways of nature. The Zapatista movement is a good example of a struggle that integrates indigenous sovereignty, ecological sustainability, and resistance to the modern system of exploitation and over-consumption of natural resources.
Globally the majority of humanity has been forced into industrial slavery. We try to support the people who are still resisting enslavement, and those who are trying to liberate themselves from it.
We encourage people first and foremost to develop themselves into skilled assets for their communities. There are practical skill sets that people can be learning and sharing ranging from self-defense, organic gardening/permaculture, disaster preparedness, primitive skills, wilderness survival, herbalism, wild crafting, first aid, pottery, electrical engineering, auto repair, bike repair, welding, knitting, teaching, child care, mid-wifery, etc. As the world becomes more chaotic and unstable, the responsibility to provide for our basic needs of food, water, shelter, energy, security, medicine, etc. will be on us. The more independent of the system we can be, the less power it will have over our lives and communities and the more resilient we’ll be as we approach an uncertain future.
Joshua BTS: If you had to pinpoint some of the most important social issues of our time, what would they be? And how do you see the music community playing a role in addressing these issues?
Resistant Culture: As food prices increase, oil reserves run dry, soil is eroded, radiation rains down, underground water aquifers are pumped dry, surface fresh water is contaminated, natural disasters increase, and political and economic stability begins to crumble, the illusion of safety and security among citizens of the “industrial north” (i.e the first world) is also beginning to crumble.
We’re entering an era where humanitarianism isn’t just a fashionable charitable hobby for celebrities or liberal activists, but rather it’s a matter of basic survival for people of all nations and economic backgrounds.
The cheap, easy, disposable world of goods and services that we’re used to is starting to really crash and that means pretty much the same thing for everyone in the modern world: we must learn how to provide for our needs and deal with our wastes on the community level. Access to clean food, water, shelter, energy, and security are the social issues that are most pressing. We totally support the myriad struggles of people fighting for progressive reforms, but we also urge a balancing of efforts to include doing whatever we can to become more resilient. Without anticipating the need to provide for our own needs, we may end up in a desperate panic to store food and water, turn cities into organic farms, build solar powered battery banks, gather and grow local edible plants, filter and purify water, build shelters out of locally available materials, develop barter networks, etc.
As far as the music community’s role, we like to remember that throughout history, during hard times, it’s the entertainers who inspire people to carry on.
It’s the responsibility of the artists, poets, musicians, actors, etc. to help people understand what’s going on, to lift their spirits so they can survive the times, and to articulate positive visions for a better future. We hope to do our part on those three levels as much as possible. We also hope to see more entertainers take on the responsibility to confront reality and be a part of the effort to change the world for the better. Many genres particularly within the extreme music scene are stuck regurgitating themes with little to no social value. It’s easy to pick up instruments, form a band and while perhaps coming up with amazing original music, lack the creative effort to use the music as a vehicle for original messages. We don’t pretend to have the most wise and important message, we feel that everyone’s truth is equally valid and important. If more musicians would search their souls for thoughts and ideas that authentically mean something to them, that would be awesome. It’s not about copying gore bands, nor is it about copying political bands, it’s about being true to oneself.
Joshua BTS: I understand the band is still roughly based in Southern Cali. What do you daily lives look like? And what do you for fun when you’re not focusing on serious political issues or rockin’ out?
Resistant Culture: Yeah, we’re all in different parts of Los Angeles county. We’re all self-employed in various sectors as contractors thus allowing us flexible schedules to accommodate touring.
For fun we like to enjoy nature, growing food, hiking, bonfires at the beach, spending time with our dogs, and other outdoor and health/wellness type stuff, along with attending shows, gatherings, parties, etc.
Joshua BTS: Resistant Culture has now been active for over 20 years. Quite an impressive history too. When you were first established as Resistant Militia in the late 80’s did you expect to have such a long and lasting impact on the crust and punk culture?
Resistant Culture: It’s been an evolution with each stage being very different and with the next stage being unknown. The goal has always been to stay true to the feeling of the moment and the creative magic of the given line-up. So many members have cycled through the band, and so many shades of punk and metal have been blended. It’s really been directed by a flow of energy beyond conscious control.
We to raise awareness and get people motivated to stand up for themselves, the planet, and the future. Though expressed in different words, the essence of the band remains the same.
It’s very rewarding to know that people throughout the world have been empowered by the music.
Joshua BTS: Resistant Culture sounded better than ever on your full US tour last October! Do you have any plans of getting back out on the road soon?
Resistant Culture: Yes, we will be touring again later this year and we’ll be announcing dates and cities soon.
Joshua BTS: I think it’s fair to say that Resistant Culture is one of the more technical of bands lumped in the “crust, d-beat, grind, punk” circle. It’s no secret that Katina is one of the best guitarists in extreme music. Have you all had formal musical training?
Katina is a classically trained guitarist, and so is Rafa. Wolf and Ben are self-taught. Since we all have backgrounds that include experience playing death and/or black metal the technical elements of those influences are able to manifest in the crust, d-beat, grind, punk song structures.
Joshua BTS: This is one for the gear-heads, What pieces of equipment do you find pivotal to capturing the band’s sound (mics, cabs, heads, tribal instruments?) And could you take us through some of the indigenous tribal instruments you incorporate with the Resistant Culture?
Resistant Culture: We’re big fans of Mesa Boogie heads/cabs, ESP guitars/basses, Schecter basses, D-Drum triggers, Digitech pedals, and Monster cables.
As far as our Indigenous instruments, we use a gourd rattle made from a home grown gourd from the Yuma, Arizona area. We also use four different Indigenous flutes in four different keys. Each of these flutes were hand-made and are from different regions of Turtle Island (the American continent). We also use a donated Pow-Wow drum that’s made from a cottonwood tree and elk skin.
Joshua BTS: What are some current bands that have your attention right now either in your local hub or abroad?
Resistant Culture: 1349, Triptykon, Disfear, Doom, etc.
Joshua BTS: What are some of your guilty music pleasures? Any Paula Abdul collectables we should know about? Haha
Resistant Culture: Haha, well nothing on the radio these days but we’ve definitely been fans of some of the classic rock/pop of the 60s, some of the funk of the 70s, and certainly the synth pop of the 80s. We’ve spent countless hours in our creative head-quarters working on various band projects while jamming 80s stations on Pandora.
Joshua BTS: We love hearing about odd touring habits! Who amongst you has the most unusual behavior on tour? No need to hold back, we’ve heard everything from band members collecting ice-t bottles of urine to guerilla-motel-pool-swimming-tactics…Let us have it! Hahaha
Resistant Culture: Well we’re all health nuts to varying degrees and in different ways and we always bring a blender and a cooler on the road and make smoothies for the band and crew everyday. It’s an experimental work in progress though as certain fruits tend to go bad faster than others and in the enclosed van environment the smell can rival that of the sweat crusted dirty clothes…
Joshua BTS: Favorite spots to grab a bite to eat?
Resistant Culture: We definitely have to shout out for Illegal Pete’s in Denver, CO they approached us before our last tour and offered a free meal ticket for everyone in the van in trade for a bit of social media promotion. We checked them out and were down with their mission and the fact that they give back to the people, and support touring bands. We were totally pleased with their food, service, and accommodating attitude towards bands on the road.
Some more favorites include:
Seattle, WA – “Bamboo Garden Vegetarian Cuisine”
Portland, OR – “Tin Shed Garden Cafe”
San Francisco, CA – “Golden Era Vegetarian Restaurant”, also the Mission district for burritos
Wilmington, CA “Los Tres Cochinitos”
Westminster, CA “Au Lac”
Las Vegas, NV – “Yayo Taco”
Texas – “Taco Cabana”
Jersey City NJ – “La Conchita”
New York, NY – “Sugar Cafe” open 24 hours
Joshua BTS: Any final thoughts or comments?
Thanks for the opportunity to express ourselves. We look forward to seeing you on tour again soon!
For more info
The Official Resistant Culture Facebook – New!
The Official Resistant Culture Myspace
CLICK ICONS TO STREAM RESISTANT CULTURE MP3s!
Resistant Culture – Beneath The ConcreteResistant Culture – Beneath The Concrete
Resistant Culture – Ecocide Resistant Culture – Ecocide
Resistant Culture – All One Struggle Resistant Culture – All One Struggle
Resistant Culture – Misery Resistant Culture – Misery
Order Official Resistant Culture Merchandise at: Seventh Generation Records
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