It's been two years since I did my last interview (february 2019), so I thought it was about time to do another round of Q&A's again! And what better way to start this new - and hopefully regular - batch of interviews off with my friend Wynn (Fatskins, ex-DDC) and his brand new outfit Strike First! Enjoy!
Ok guys, this is my first interview in nearly two years – so please go easy on me. Because of that, let’s kick off with some basic questions first. Who does what in the band, past experience – a little introduction of yourself!
I’m Wynn, vocals and lead guitar, Ronnie is on drums, Robbie is on rhythm guitar, and Jordan is on bass. Ronnie and I were in DDC together and I’m also in the Fatskins and Antagonizers ATL. Robbie played in a few local bands and played bass for DDC about the last six months of our existence. Jordan is in an Atlanta streetpunk band called The Rotten Stitches
Now as StrikeFirst was only formed last year – out of the ashes of DDC, aka Drink & Destroy Crew – it perhaps is too much to ask for a short biography. Yet I am still curious on why the DDC era came to an end. What happened?
It was time to call it a day with DDC. The only two people driving that band were me and Ronnie. I’d had a full album of new material written for well over a year and the only ones motivated to finish it were me and Ronnie. Our singer was more interested in getting wasted at practice and our old bass player just couldn’t keep up with the bass lines I was writing. Towards the end, Robbie came in to replace our bass player, then became the rhythm guitar player in StrikeFirst. In fact, our singer skipped four months of practice and Robbie’s first time playing with him was on stage. StrikeFirst started as a side-project for the rest of us since we were still getting together for DDC practice every week. So initially it was me, Ronnie, Robbie, and DDC’s rhythm guitar player on bass but we quickly replaced him with Jordan because he’d fallen into those bad DDC habits and I was determined to not have to deal with that again. Jordan was the perfect addition to StrikeFirst.
With the demise of DDC, StrikeFirst was instantly announced as the next band, quickly followed up by your debut 12” “Wolves” on Rebellion Records. More on that 12” in the questions to come, but since it was released rather quickly, I want to know if any of the tracks on “Wolves” were initially written and perhaps performed with DDC, before winding up on StrikeFirst’s debut?
Dead End Boys was originally written for the new DDC album and Fight Like Hell is an old DDC song that I’d done lead vocals on. That was on our split with Assault & Battery on Rebellion Records. We’ve got two songs on the new album we’re working on that were supposed to be DDC songs, also.
With that being asked, “Wolves” was easily your best work to date – so much power and energy! Also, the reactions by others were very positive, maybe overwhelming. How do you look back on the release and the response that followed?
My best? Wow, that’s a hell of statement! Honestly, we’re really overwhelmed with how well it’s been received. We felt great about the songs, but we weren’t a hundred percent on how they’d be received. We really put a lot of thought into those songs, especially songs like Wolves and The Flame.
Also the sales speak for themselves. Sure, it was ‘only’ 300 copies that got pressed, but it sold out pretty damn fast nonetheless! Any word on a repress, or perhaps a CD-version as it was only released on vinyl for now?
Rebellion Records just mentioned to me a few weeks back that this would be repressed. I’m really happy that this album has had such a great reception.
Despite being from Atlanta, the album-title was actually written in Japanese on the front cover. Any particular reason?
The album art tells the story of the title track. “Wolves” is about a B-17 called “Old 666” in the south pacific during World War II that was on a lone recon flight to photograph a Japanese air base. The wolves are the Japanese Zeroes. So, if you look at the album art, there’s the wolf, a Japanese imperial flag surrounded by crosshairs, with crossed .50 caliber machine guns etched with “666”. It seemed fitting for the album title to be in Japanese
Besides seven of your own tracks, “Wolves” also features a cover of Oasis’ “Bring It On Down” - a curious, but excellent choice! Who came up with the idea and would it be your favorite Oasis track?
That was me. I’m a huge Oasis fan and when I was kicking around ideas for an Oasis cover this one seemed natural. It’s already a punk song.
What do you think of the Gallagher’s current solo-projects? Personally I prefer Liam’s work, especially the “As You Were” and “Why Me? Why Not.” LP’s. What do you reckon?
I prefer Liam’s projects as well. I’ve been on a Beady Eyes kick lately, although I’m torn because I have a soft spot for Noel since he’s the guitar player in the band.
Due to the current crisis we’re still in, StrikeFirst was barely able to do live shows. The shows you did play were under restriction and that must be weird, playing some of the best stuff you ever written live but with a somber response to it. How is that for you guys as musicians?
It really has been surreal but the few shows we have played were kind of critical to helping us gel as a band. It’s also been kind of nice to not have a busy show schedule and focus on writing new material.
You reckon it will ever go back to normal, whatever normal might be once this shit is over?
I do. I think someday everyone will look back in a couple years and say “do you remember when we were all locked down? That was wild”
It does provide time to write new songs though because – newsflash(!) - you are literally in the studio, as we speak, to record your next album! Excited? What can we expect of it?
The time has actually been kind of nice. We moved so quickly as a band transitioning from DDC to StrikeFirst that we went full speed straight out of the gate. It was great to be able to spend some time with the guys and take our time writing.
So, what can you expect? Well, anyone that knows me, knows that I’m my own worst critic and I can almost say without a doubt that this is the best stuff I’ve ever written. We felt so good about Wolves we all wondered how we’d top it but we realized fairly quickly that we were firing on all cylinders and turning out some really great songs. We all feel like we took a big step forward with our writing and upped the musicianship. You can tell it’s the same band that wrote Wolves but it’s cleaner, meaner, and bigger. Having Jordan join us shortly after Wolves was recorded really was the last piece we needed. He brought some fresh ideas to us that helped drive us in the direction we wanted. This is the only band I’ve ever been where everyone had the same drive and passion.
I sure as hell can’t wait to hear it, so keep me in the loop! For now, I am going to wrap this one up though, thanks as always for your time! If you have anything to add to the interview, please feel free to do so!
As always, thank you for your support, Mano. I’d like to give a big shout out to Ronnie, Robbie, and Jordan for helping me write as close to a perfect album as I’ve been a part of, Bohdan for being such a driving force in the Atlanta scene, all of our friends and people all over the world that have been so supportive. And of course, a big thank you to Wouter and Rebellion Records for his continued faith in my bands.