LIFERS

Fully matured temper tantrums from local hangers-on, out of retirement for one last headache.

INTERVIEW WITH NICK COLLINS (VOCALIST)

(Interview conducted and written by Connor Sullivan)

Q: What’s your history with the New England punk and hardcore scene like?
A: A lot of people that are younger aren’t aware that New Bedford, where I got started, used to have a really vibrant scene, which was really at its most potent during the 90s. There’s a lot of people there that are still doing music, and that’s incredible. And more power to them. But they’ll tell you that it was something they were really privileged to be apart of at the time. I’ve come in and out of hardcore involvement that included being active in various bands and going to a lot of different shows. Doing things like that as a teenager and as a young adult instilled in me a DIY ethic, the importance of community, and inclusiveness. All those values I attribute 100% to being apart of that scene. It’s not something I got from high school or jobs. Even as an adult with all the adult shit like a 9-5 job and car payments and — not yet, but one day — a mortgage, I’m happy to still be in touch with all that.

Q: How have these ethos been affected by outlets like Bandcamp?
A: Other people can probably speak on the post-Bandcamp DIY scene with more clarity and profundity — I can’t imagine what it’s like. I don’t know if people have more of an appetite for music since it’s more instantly accessible or if you don’t get that same sense of wonder from music obtained from an mp3 file or a YouTube video that you do when you go to a show and see a band that you are totally unfamiliar with and they blow your mind. I think we definitely lose something from that.

Q: Could you discuss your experiences living in Providence for a little bit?
A: Providence is an awesome city. I live in Boston, but I come here as often as I can. Providence is great and kind of the ideal size. It’s very focused on the arts and you don’t necessarily find that in a lot of places.

Q: Did you ever establish any relationships with some of Providence’s contemporary hardcore and alternative outfits like Neutrinos or AdaptorAdaptor?
A: No, to be honest with you, I’m not familiar with those bands. But Lifers is a weird project. It started around 2009. We were all past our punk prime by that point. I think maybe we had a little pre-30’s dread, that tension you get when that number’s approaching. By that point, we had all been in various punk bands across the spectrum. We all had one foot out, if not our whole bodies outside the scene. We probably had more of a camaraderie with bands we saw in the late 90s or early 2000s. That was a more impactful and influential time period for us than the present. Anthony, one of our guitarists, was in a great Providence band called A Trillion Barnacle Lapse. They put out a lot of amazing records, each one different from the last. And you could hear the progression in every single record. They were so inspiring to me. I’d inevitably run into them all the time playing shows in Providence. Anthony and I have since become lifelong friends. But we were also influenced by a lot of other bands probably long forgotten by most people but that were important to us at the time.

Q: What releases have you worked on as Lifers?
A: We have two EPs out right now on our Bandcamp, Want For Nothing and Early Trauma. Those were recorded a year apart from one another in the two years we’ve been together — ironically kind of a short lifespan for a band called Lifers.

Q: Who did you record the EPs with?
A: We self-recorded them at a studio in Lunenberg, MA, Powerhouse Studio. The proprietor was a dear man named Stuart Covington who has since passed away unfortunately. It means a lot to have those records, since they not only capture the sound that we wanted to convey, but they’re also kind of a memory of this guy’s life; he was very close to our first drummer Mike. It adds an extra layer of importance.

Q: How long were you guys around prior to your initial recordings?
A: We were around for two to three months before recording that first EP, Early Trauma. We may have rushed into it a little, but it was just enough for us to figure out our sound and have a plan of attack.

Q: In your EPs, you specifically redress class issues in some of your songs like “In Vitro Casino.” To what extent do these politics inform your music?
A: To be totally candid, I haven’t spoken about this in a public forum. But I’ve given a lot of thought to questions like this that might come up. As far as politics go, there’s definitely meaning in the lyrics. You’re very astute for picking up on some of the class politics present in the songs mentioned. But I don’t consider the band or my lyrics political; they’re totally personal. We’re not the kind of band that includes explanations on our lyric sheets or speeches between our songs. Not to knock any of that, but I don’t think I’m articulate enough to convey those messages. If you connect with this, then you’re right. There’s not a hard line. When I was 17 and if I saw a band that had a very explicit political message, I might have rolled my eyes back then. It might be something that now I might feel completely different about. In my writing process, I don’t want to write something that 17-year-old or 78-year-old me would be ashamed of. It’s admittedly a defense mechanism to be a little esoteric.

Q: What’s your stance on AS220?
A: AS220 is sick. I’ve been coming here since I was a teenager. It’s an important place. Places like bars and clubs aren’t accessible the way this place is. AS220 has showcased a wide array of bands and artists and gave access to these shows to pretty much everyone. And that’s been really important in building community. If you don’t have a place that reliably puts on all-ages shows, kids will lose interest. They won’t seek it out and the scene won’t keep going.