I've been following the CHUGlife blog for a few years ago. Over the years I got into мища as a result. Mr. Robert Hansen (with a fucking "e") runs CHUGlife on his lonesome and is the drummer for мища. CHUGlife is an extremely influential underground music blog that focused initially on aggressive music and then expanded out to cover any style of music Rob deems to be "dope". мища is the screamiest of screamy punk/hardcore/screamo bands. Scream. Below is merely a sample of what goes through this guy's extremely interesting noggin'. I have divided the interview into to parts. As you've most likely already guessed, these sections are CHUGlife and мища. Eternal thanks to Rob for answering these questions so eloquently, which he somehow did in the span of 24 hours. Word. Errr...words.
Considering promoting new bands is my - and I assume your, blog is all about, what unknown/obscure band(s) would you like people to know about for this particular interview?
I don’t even know. I haven’t really been scouting too many new bands or checking my email recently. I think I have like 100 unread emails pertaining to the blog that I just haven’t gotten around to. I’ll sit down and check them out eventually, but I get so many fucking emails that I cannot get to them all. Sometimes people get butt hurt, sometimes people think I’m an asshole, but whatever. The worst is when I meet people and they are like “I sent you my bands record, why didn’t you post it? Did you not like it?”.
The bands that I have been posting recently have been my friends, just because it takes like no effort. My internet has been pretty awful up until like three days ago so I literally couldn’t stream music unless I let it buffer for a really long time, and I need that bandwith for porn and stuff. I feel bad for not being on top of my blog game, but I feel even worse because I don’t feel that bad.
Where do you find out about new music?
My friends, mostly. I’ve been trying to focus on bands that people I know are in, mainly in the mid-Atlantic because it is super overlooked and we have some of the best artists in the country. That being said, I still get a lot of music recommendations from internet friends as well as random emails, but I’m more inclined to check out a band if someone I know shows it to me as opposed to a stranger. Also, for real, I fucking hate it when I get an email from a band and it was obviously sent to a million other people. If you want me to take the time to listen to your fucking band then take the time to write me a fucking email.
What kind of satisfaction do you get knowing that you have inspired and influenced other blogs, if any?
I get that shit a lot man. A lot of people tell me that they wouldn’t be into punk or screamo or music blog culture if it wasn’t for my blog, and it’s really cool. I feel like a dick because all I say is like “cool” or “thanks”, but it means a lot. It’s pretty cool to hype a relatively unknown band and then a while later they blow the fuck up, because maybe I had something to do with it?
What series of events led you to start Chug Life?
My buddy got me into blog culture (remember Rawrr and Fly Guy Die Dance?) in like 2007-08 and I would stay up all night downloading music from blogs and soulseek and stuff like that. After a while I had filled up a shitty laptop with hella music and I was talking with above mentioned friend about how it kind of sucks that no one we know are into the same bands. We decided, independently, that we each wanted to start our own blogs to spread all this new music we are constantly finding, but then we decided it would be silly for both of us to start up blogs that focused on the same stuff, so we just went in together. He did most of the layout stuff and I social networked the fuck out of it, and then we started posting about bands. His posts were more in the vein of reviews and articles (more serious), while I would just kind of rapid fire bands that I figured either no one had heard of or no one had digital files of. Pretty soon shit blew up, and in about a year or two we had like half a million views. One of the coolest things was when we broke a million hits, and I can’t even tell you how many views we have total now. The other dude doesn’t do the blog anymore, and after the whole mediafire/rapidshare takedown thing shit got kind of infrequent for a while. Now I have a real job and a semi-real life so the blog has taken a back seat but I try to do as much with it as I can.
Is it difficult to balance music you love with promoting your friends’ bands on CHUG LIFE? I know they overlap, but I’m sure you get the question.
Hell no. It’s really easy because I only post bands that I like. If I don’t post a band, I either don’t like it or I didn’t read your email. I guess its fucked up to say, but I’m not going to promote shit that I don’t like. Or people.
What kind of bands do you mesh with on a personal level? Why?
I like hanging out with rappers and people who make beats because they smoke weed with me. I also like punk bands and stuff like that because they enjoy getting fucked up. I sometimes don’t get along with other people involved with the D.I.Y scene because I get fucked up and I eat whatever I want, but I haven’t really had any problems recently. I think that people should be able to do whatever they want so whatever. Sometimes I get really excited about a band and I get into fan boy mode and stuff, and then other times I meet people who get super pumped about the band or the blog. But, at any rate, I kind of get along with anyone who chills and gets lifted.
Talk about your ties to the Bell Foundry.
I stay there and I booked a lot of shows there when we were doing that kind of stuff. Most of the people who are involved are friends of mine from way back in the day, so it’s kind of like a family or a cult. When I was still in college I would be the guy on the couch for my visits back east, so I’ve kind of been around forever. When I moved back I became more involved in a permanent sense, especially with the show stuff. Once we ran into some problems I was part of the group that was, and still is, fixing everything up and attempting to make it a legit space to continue to do shows and all that. It’s taking a long time because of life though.
Which post was the most fun to write?
DJ Screw was tight because I got to listen to a lot of Chopped stuff. J Dilla was fun because he fucking rules, and obviously Third Eye Blind because they are one of the most important things to happen to modern music since Pet Sounds.
Which post was the most unfunnest to write? Me English good.
None. What’s the point of posting something that isn’t fun? Fuck that shit; I don’t owe anyone a god damned thing. (except my creditors)
Which post was the hardest/most difficult? (I have a hard time with my favourite bands, primarily because I don’t feel like I can do the band justice)
It was hard to do bands that transcended genres because I felt like an idiot talking about “heavy parts” and “fast parts” and stuff. It got easier once I knew more about music and stuff, and once I stopped caring about writing well and just focused on doing whatever I want.
What problems do you encounter with mp3 downloads? (I personally really appreciate the downloads by the way, as I purchase the albums of stuff that is good enough to warrant such a purchase…of itself)
Do you mean like Piracy culture? Or do you mean people being against their stuff being up for download? Either way, fuck that shit, I think everyone should be able to download music. It’s the same principle as sex, except instead of contraceptives its downloads: everyone is going to do it, so why make it such a big deal? If someone wants to listen to something, fucking let them. I think that people should be able to get whatever they want as easy and safe as possible because its super easy to fuck up your computer and compromise your security online or whatever if you download random bullshit. I also am a staunch believer that downloads help record sales, just because someone who wants to buy a record or tape or some shit is going to buy it regardless if they have the digital files, so why not use digital files as a way to promote? The internet is the best promotional tool available. Also, if you are that butt hurt about 50 kids downloading your album and you not getting paid you can go fuck yourself.
I've read that some bands ask you to change things, or at least I thought I read that. How do you feel when a band asks you to change your opinion? Your post? What do people give you shit for?
Some people have asked me to edit stuff in posts, and most of the time its fine. Sometimes it’s just been as simple as me getting some sort of fact wrong, which is fine. Other times, people don’t want me to include certain details or would prefer if I excluded something that was discussed in a more personal setting between us, which again is fine I guess. It’s annoying, but whatever. I get it, even if I don’t agree with it.
Do you find it hard to balance objectivity with emotion when listening to/playing/talking about music? Can you keep emotion out of music when listening, playing and talking about it, or is emotion inherent in music?
Playing, no. Listening, yes. I can listen to a song or a band and be like “I don’t like this because of how it sounds”, whereas if I am playing music it becomes “I like this because it makes me feel this way, or reminds me of this”. I can be really critical of other people’s material, whereas I can let stuff slide with my own. Thus, I don’t like to talk about my own music.
Besides music, what do you spend your time doing? What are your hobbies?
Can you talk about your job?
I work in the ticket office at the Symphony.
What is your dumbest impulse?
Hard drugs or drunk eating.
When are you at your most intellectual?
The shower or the toilet.
Can you guide us chronologically through your musical life?
Beach Boys – Jimmy Buffet – Blink 182 – From First To Last – The Chariot – L’Antietam / Minus The Bear – Capsule – Jeromes Dream / La Quiete – Louise Cyphre – J DIlla / Dj Screw – Third Eye Blind / Katy Perry
Is your online personality similar to what you are like in real life?
I use less curse words on the internet.
Are you doing anything to make sure that you are not sucked down the technology vortex? Am I correct in assuming that people are becoming addicted to cellphones – especially children, or have I become the old generation that says TV rots your brain? All other bands have noticed no such vortex. I feel like my sanity is being sucked into said imaginary vortex.
I watch a lot of tv shows on my computer, I sit on the computer all day at work and I play videogames. My niece is like 5 and she is better at most video games than I am, and my nephew can’t even talk yet but he has some sort of tablet. I tried to explain dial-up internet to my oldest nephew and it blew his mind. I love technology because of porn.
What are your thoughts on the young generation? Your generation? The older generation?
Fuck ‘em. The internet and shit has spoiled the younger kids and now they suck. And they seem kind of dumb. And then older people are super jaded because they know the younger kids are dumb. And my age group sucks because we’re super sad because our parents said we could make our dreams come true but that shit didn’t happen.
Is there anything of political nature that you would like to share?
SMOKE WEED EVERYDAY OF YOUR LIFE UNTIL YOU DIE
What is/are your:
top 10 records, including favourite release of all time?
In no particular order:
Third eye blind – s/t lp
Katy Perry – Teenage Dream
J Dilla – Donuts
Capsule – Blue
Kidcrash – Jokes
Blink 182 – Take off Your Pants and Jacket
Boys Night Out – Trainwreck
La Quiete / Louise Cyphre - Split
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
Daughters – Hell songs
favourite cover art/packaging?
Graf Orlock or Comadre.
Regarding live shows:
the best show you've ever been to?
Daughters and Russian Circles was cool. So was See You Next Tuesday and The Number 12 Looks Like You. I think that the best show I ever went to was probably Algernon Cadwallader, Street Smart Cyclist, Hightide Hotel, and Slingshot Dakota
the band you would like to go back in time and see?
Jeromes Dream or Pg. 99 back in the way back.
What are your recommendations for:
Grimes and Kitty Pryde.
The Katy Perry or Justin Bieber Movie, Re-animator trilogy, or Until The Light Takes Us.
Anything by Robert Anton Wilson, H P Lovecraft or Edgar Allen Poe.
How did you guys meet? How did you get involved in the band together? Chronologically, perhaps?
James and I met in highschool, and have been playing music together since I was in 9th grade. A little later on we met Alex, and a little while after we started мища we asked Alex to join the band.
What enticed you to start/join мища?
James and I started the band. I wanted to learn how to play drums and he wanted to play guitar more. If you listen to our stuff in a chronological order you can hear me teach myself how to play, or whatever.
How would you describe your band?
Sad, fast and noisy.
How do your influences play into your sound? Do you sound like your influences?
To an extent. We listen to a lot of screams, punk and hardcore music so I guess that shows in our songs but I think we are more “influenced” by the blues and stuff like that.
What is the primary reason that you create music?
I don’t think there is a particularly interesting answer to this question: we make music because we like to play our instruments, we like each other and we like being together. мища is an emotional outlet no doubt, but I don’t believe that’s the primary reason for starting.
Is there anything you want to say about мища lyrics, specifically or in general?
I personally have no idea what the lyrics are. I know, in a general sense, that most of the time they are talking about being sad or drugs, but that’s not my department.
Talk about your connections to the bands on your splits.
All of the splits that we have done have been with friends, to a certain degree. We toured with Innards, Broken Chords Can Sing A Little, and Pansori, as well as played a billion shows with We Were Skeletons over the years too. As for the other bands we have done splits with, we mostly met them over the internet either in a “hey we like your band” sense or I was personally internet friends with one of the members and we organized a release.
What would you like to say about your new material?
The new material sounds the way we have all wanted our music to sound. The other stuff is cool, but ‘Joyless’ really is what we have been going for. I was in college for most of the bands existence so every time I would come home for a short break we would speed write a certain amount of songs and then record them to fulfill an obligation to be on a release. It was fun to do that because it was crunch time all the time, but for ‘Joyless’ we were able to really take our time and work out the album. A lot of it had to do with all of us living together during most of the writing and recording process. Also, we were all in really bad places in our lives, for the most part, so that made writing music less of an obligation and more of an escape.
Can you contrast your recording experiences?
We have pretty much been on every end of the recording spectrum. Some stuff was recorded straight to a laptop via a USB mic and other stuff was recorded on a tape deck, while for the later material we either went to a pretty nice studio or had our friends use their nice gear and college degrees in our basement. I still think it’s pretty cool to record different ways every time, but I think we might have found a solid way to record in the future.
What formats would you like to release your future songs on and why?
All of them. Every format possible. That way our releases are accessible to anyone who wants them.
Please talk about artwork in relation to your music.
Artwork has never really been a priority for me personally. I think that the less we do for covers the better, but that being said, I really like it when releases have posters and extra stuff involved. I think that unless you are going all out on your packaging you should keep it as chill as possible,
What other bands inspire you? Which bands have been uninspiring?
The simple answer is this: our friends and “good” bands inspire us to get on their level and stay on their level, while bands that we don’t really like or people we don’t really like, especially those who are “big” or “popular”, make us (me specifically), not interested in music.
Why the name, мища?
Мища was supposed to mean “bear”, but the Turkish kid in highschool who told me that and wrote it down was wrong. Or maybe he was right for his local dialect but generally speaking it doesn’t mean bear I guess. We’ve been told it means a lot of things, the best of those being “beer”. It doesn’t really matter though, мища just means our band.
Do you see мища as a positive band?
Can you reveal anything interesting about the band members?
Not legally, no. I don’t wanna be a snitch.
What was the best part about touring? The worst?
The best part was meeting people and hanging out with friends. All the dope food and parties and stuff. Sight-seeing is fun sometimes, too. One time we ate weed fruit by the foot and watched porn on a huge projector. The worst was getting arrested and dealing with cops . Car trouble too.
Talk about your most memorable tour.
Our first U. S tour was awesome because it was the first time we ever did anything like that and we were all pretty new to the whole process. We made a shit ton of friends on that tour, and also got arrested and had to stay in West Texas for a week and missed playing with June Paik. On the other hand, our other U. S tour was pretty awesome because it was like a month and a half and we played a lot of dope shows and chilled super hard, until we ran out of money due to car issues and stuff.
What is your favourite song to play live? Any particular reason?
The song from the Innards split “I've Built Plenty of Houses, But I've Broken More Homes” was my favourite for a while JUST BECAUSE people knew the words to that one part and they would sing and do all that shit, which was cool to watch. Now I don’t like playing that song that much, but we will if someone asks us to. I think my favourite song to play now is one that we haven’t recorded but we have been playing for a long time. Its called “Torts”, because of Torts, and its super heavy so we normally play that one last.
What band/song would you like to cover?
Is there anything that you try to avoid when writing a new song?
Being redundant or boring.
Is there anything that you try to avoid when writing a new song? Can you talk about the layering of the vocals in your songs? How do you write them? Who decides who screams what part?
Again, that is not my bag. They both do vocals together when we record, each bringing their own stuff to the table and pumping through it in one to two takes. Normally we just do one take so that we can capture that raw sound, but sometimes when they finish a track we will talk about it and be like “it would be awesome if you both did it like this at the same time, or you go like this and you go like that”. That’s probably why the vocals on ‘Joyless’ are a little tighter.
How has your hometown/upbringing influenced your music? You, as a person?
James and I isolated ourselves pretty heavily so we because super close. Like brother close. It made it a lot easier to be creative partners because we know, for the most part, what the other person wants and what they can and can’t do. Like, for instance, if I was to say “okay, so lets have a fast part and then I’ll stop and you do whatever and then I’ll come in and it will be heavy and slow” then James would be like “word” and then we would get it on like the third try. As a person, I guess growing up in Western Maryland has taught me to get fucked up a lot and have a really small group of close friends. It sucks out there.
What is the most positive and negative influence in music? Your local scene?
The best part is our friends and mutual friendship. We love each other a lot. The worst part is the drugs, and how we can enable each other at times. I think the same goes for the scene as well.
Who were your primary influences when you started playing music and who are they now?
We wanted to piss off and annoy people, and we also used it as an outlet to make fun of other bands our age that we didn’t like for whatever reason. We were huge dicks. I guess we still are, but we were really vocal about it back then. Now we just make music as a creative outlet and all that stuff. Musically, we used to really try to emulate Daughters and stuff, but then when we started being more serious with the band we started drawing most of our influences from European screams.
If you had to slap a genre label on мища so potential new listeners could get a good idea of your sound without hearing you, what would you label yourselves as?
I think our biggest Last.Fm tag is, or at one time was, “chaotic screamo”. My favourite is still “psycho screamo”.
I tend to focus on screamo more than most other genres, can you talk about what the term means to you? How has it influenced мища? How would you describe bands like Neil Perry, Hot Cross, Raein, La Quiete, Off Minor and Carrion Spring?
All of those bands are pretty different. “screamo” in the purest sense, has become so fucking watered down that it doesn’t really mean anything to me anymore. When I started listening to it back in highschool it was so awesome because of the raw emotion and the technicality of the bands, and I really loved how so many bands could sound so different. Now, I feel like too many bands are trying to either be the new version of their favourite band, or they are releasing the same fucking record over and over again. For a long time I was all about disseminating screamo and post-hardcore music to the masses, but the more I did and the more bands I was asked to listen to, the more I realized that after a while it’s all the same recycled shit. I’m not saying that every band in the broad genre is the same, I’m just saying that original screamo bands are few and far between these days. I honestly think that the best screamo bands are those who don’t self-identify with the genre, but instead play whatever they want. It’s awesome that kids are listening to screamo and post hardcore, because it’s a really important genre (imo), but at the end of the day if I wanted to listen to a band that sounds like City of Caterpillar I’m just going to listen to City of Caterpillar. Screamo has definitely influenced us as a band because we listen to that kind of music, but we listen to a lot of other music also and they all equally shaped us as musicians or whatever.
What things have happened in 2013 thus far that you would like the readers to know about?
We released our first solo release. That’s about it. It’s been a rather crazy year for us as people so the band didn’t really do a whole lot. The record took a lot of time, so most of our efforts went towards getting that project done.
Does мища not give a shit about anybody? Not really, but I read something along those lines on the Topshelf quote. What’s the deal? Just that мища spells their name a little strangely sometimes?
We don’t really give a shit about most things. As people we are like that, so as a band we are as well. I don’t really know if that makes sense, but our general attitude towards whatever is “fuck it”. We don’t really take a lot of stuff too seriously, so that might have something to do with it. Or we just don’t care. I don’t really know. We have a funny relationship with that label.