UpThePunx caught up with The Casualties singer David Rodriguez at their show in Garden Grove 11/22 with Informal Society, and Strung Out. The Casualties have two new albums out – Written In Blood (it’s fucking killer), and a live studio album titled Until Death: Studio Sessions. We did the interview next to a dumpster, because, where else do you interview The Casualties?
Punx: How’d you end up in The Casualties?
David: I was singing in another band called Krum Bums, we started about ’99, and we toured multiple times with The Casualties. We were always together, we toured Europe, the States, Canada, Mexico. The funny thing is the drummer and I lived together, and never once did we discuss me singing for them. I have my own band, Starving Wolves.
But one day, it sounded like Jorge might not show up, and he asked, “Hey if Jorge doesn’t show up, would you mind filling in?” And I was like, “Dude you’re my friend of course.”
I didn’t want to, the only reason I didn’t want to though, is because I take what I do seriously. I didn’t want to just get up there and jump around, I don’t just get the satisfaction of “hey, I went up there and sang.” I get satisfaction from connecting with people, and I can see it in their eyes. And sure; there are some shows where people are not into it, and every band has that. I mean you might play a show where it was okayyy… but it wasn’t the feel…
Where like tonight – people felt like they were at home. (EDITOR NOTE: It’s true, they did, we all did.)
Punx: How are the fans accepting you taking over vocals?
David: The transition could not have been any better than it has been. There have been almost zero at the end of show problems.
I can understand how you would be apprehensive of a new singer, but I mean, if you know me, and you know my background, you’re going to give it a chance. I come from a very open minded group of people. I mean Krum Bums consists of more than the 4 of us, because we believe in the crowd, we believe in unity.
The other thing is it’s like… the worst thing written about us was
“It’s not going to be the same.”
It’s like, no man, it won’t.
If I go see a movie with you, it’s going to be different than if I see a movie with someone else… Of course it’s not going to be the same! I haven’t gotten anything bad… Ok… One guy wanted to kill me in Chile (laughs)
Punx: How’s tour been so far?
David: This tour’s been phenomenal! I can see how some people who are way into Strung Out might say “Why are you with The Casualties?” or someone way into Casualties might say “Why are you with Strung Out?” But if you are from my age group, and I am much older than these kids, and I say that respectfully; but there was a time when if you played punky music, you played together, because you’re allowed to be different. We have the same goal. I remember seeing so many bands when I was younger and it was a mix of music. I feel like the cool thing about this tour is a bunch of diehard fans of each band come out at the end of the night have being like, “I’ve seen The Casualties on t-shirts and patches and I’ve never seen or heard you” It’s rad to go on a super punky punk tour where, you know, everybody knows you-
but this is cool too, this takes some effort.
Punx: What was the writing process for Written In Blood? Were you heavily involved?
David: Yeah! I wrote every song on there except for “Fucking Hate You”, which Rick wrote, and it’s an incredible song. I like to feel we were as one when we wrote that…
(Rick walks up RIGHT THEN)
Hey Rick! We’re doing an interview!
Rick: Hey this is Rick! I’m part of the interview now!
David: That’s Rick… He’s had 1, or 2, or 3… 3 times (laughs)
Anyways, when I joined the band we were very open that I wasn’t going to be a karaoke guy. When people say “That’s some big boots to fill” I say “I don’t walk in anybody’s shoes but mine.”
So when it came to writing, I was going to write what I write about. Jorge and I write very differently, but it had to be that way. With all the shit that’s going on in the world right now, and with how I grew up, it’s almost like this record wrote itself. There’s just too much bullshit, and what we want to say is our struggle is fucking Written In Blood, and it won’t stop.
Punx: How was recording the Until Death live album in a studio?
David: The thing that’s kind of cool about it is we finished recording Written In Blood one day, flew over here to LA, and started recording Until Death a day later.
It was cool. A lot of those songs we’d never played together before, and the guys hadn’t practiced them either so it is pretty fuckin‘ live. I mean “in the studio live,” but live. It’s funny, what is the date? (Nov. 22) I have still not heard that album yet. I felt so awkward recording those old songs because I had to give my heart in it. It’s hard for me to listen to myself anyway, like Written In Blood, but I wrote that. It’s not that I don’t want to, I’m excited, I just had to let it air. I haven’t gotten any death threats, yet! (laughs)
Punx: Do you have a favorite band to play with?
David: I love playing with The Restarts. The Lower Class Brats. There’s a great band from Italy called Call The Cops.
Punx: What’s the best part of being in a punk band?
David: The best part of being in a punk band is going home after a tour (laughs)
The BEST thing is speaking your mind without compromise, and connecting with your crowd. This is the only scene where we stop and hug our crowd. I’ve got little kids coming up on stage, and I don’t look down on them, I don’t get mad. I want them to come to this show that looks psychotic and I want them to feel safe. I want them to remember this forever. That there was a whole crowd of people saying “FUCK DONALD TRUMP” so when this little kid grows up they can remember there was this tyrant in office and they went to this.
Punk rock shows are like a debate, people with different ideas coming together to discuss things. I almost get too weird, but I feel there’s something really primal about it. Like when you think of different indigenous people from wherever in the world, but you get together around fire, banging drums, screaming, I think it’s cool.
Punx: Would you have any advice for up and coming punk bands?
David: Yeah, the computers not going away. We need it, but practice what you preach. Practice what you listen to. Get off your computer, and go to a fucking show. People get so caught up with what others say, and think like “oh he’s a sellout, you sellout!”
You think we float around on free money? with free gas? you think this pays my rent?! We sleep on people’s floors half the nights, because we HAVE to. People don’t print shirts for us to sell, we pay for everything. We pay for everything. Buy a record, buy a physical fucking copy, like we used to. We put time-
bands, not just us, though, the cover artists;
there’s a lot of people involved. It’s not just the 4 of us. There’s a lot. A booking agent is a really awesome person because they sit around and map these things out, and they make sure people are coming together for us. We do a lot of this stuff ourselves, but again we don’t go on tour for 2 weeks, we go on tour for 8 weeks, ALL year long. We started touring Oct 27, 2018 and it’s been different tours, but we haven’t stopped touring since then. This tour ends tomorrow, but after this I leave two days later with Starving Wolves. This is what we do. So fucking go out, support this shit.
Punx: Fuck yeah. Any closing words?
David: Support your scene, with everything –
If you want to give a fuck about the world, pick up the trash in your neighborhood, start cleaning your fucking house, your area around you, help the people that need help in your area. Care about your scene and it will grow. Kindness is contagious. When you’re kind to somebody, they think about it, and other people see it.
Be fucking nice.
Interview by Alex Napiwocki and Candy Graham. Edits by Natalie Klibanow.