Six Questions For ... the Old Haunts
To refer to an album as stunningly solid may seem like a backhanded compliment but it works perfectly for "Poisonous Times" by the Old Haunts. On its third full-length album the Olympia, Wash., trio takes a tried-and-true sound - punky garage rock in the vein of Dead Moon and the Wipers - and makes it sound as exciting and vibrant as possible. There's something intrinsically Northwest about the band's sound, which frontman Craig Extine talked about in advance of the band's show Sunday night at the Red & the Black. He also talked about the band's goals, message and why you should go see them instead of Radiohead.
Listening to "Poisonous Times" it's pretty clear right away that this is a band from the Pacific Northwest. How would you describe that sound?
There's a certain kind of grittiness with the guitar, and just a little bit dark sounding.
You don't strike me as a band that's looking for fame, at least in the traditional way. So what would you say your goals are as a band?
Our goals are based in artistic aspects of making music. Making records and playing shows and writing songs. Making music we care about and feel is important. Addressing messages that are dear to us. Creating something that contrasts the corporate [expletive] that's around, the violence that's so predominant in the current times, in big and small ways. It's difficult to be relevant in that kind of way but that's definitely what we're trying to do.
Is it more the way you go about things? Or is it what you're saying with your music, maybe emotionally if not necessarily lyrically.
Both. ... It's about having a band be a part of a greater expression of how we all live our lives, how we're trying to live our lives and what kinds of things we're trying to accomplish through various forms of activism. Addressing everything from the environmental issues that are really scary right now and are totally a part of all the war stuff which is going on, which is absolutely insane. And that's also a part of the labor issues, the [expletive] jobs that people are forced to work and the fact that we have [expletive] health care or no health care. Every aspect of life on an individual and group level is intertwined at some point. So the hope is to address that through music. Not just be naively optimistic about things but to try to come to terms with the really damaging things that are around us and at the same time try to find some hint of an answer as to how we can change that. Or at least offer something culturally contrary to that.
Don't you think sometimes people just want to listen to music without being given a message?
Yeah, I don't think music has to be overtly political, lyrically, to offer something that's rebellious, though. People just want to listen to music without being preached to nonstop, of course. At the same time, how can we express anything without addressing the issues that are on our mind?
You're playing in D.C. the same night that Radiohead's in town. Why should people go see the Old Haunts instead of Radiohead?
Well, I'm not really familiar with their music very much.
For real?! Wow, congrats.
I've heard some on the radio but not for a while. So I don't really know where they're at nowadays. I mean, [our show] will be at a much more intimate place. There's more of a chance that somebody will connect with us in a more intense and intimate level.
You're also playing on Mother's Day. Does your mom like the band?
Yeah, all of our mothers and fathers are really supportive and listen to our music.
Do they ever give any feedback?
I mean, mostly just positive. Not a whole lot of in-depth critiques. My parents don't like staying up really late. But if we have a show that starts before midnight they'll come on out.
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